Subscription FAQ

  1. What is the overall architecture for your subscription service?
  2. What are the Subscription API components in place currently?
  3. What is involved in a basic integration?
  4. Can you charge variable amounts each cycle for "metered billing"?
  5. Do you support trial versions with billing upon trial expiration?
  6. Do you support automatic customer migration from an exisisting SaaS e-commerce solution?
  7. Do you support credit card data portability?
  8. What is the technical flow of customer acquisition?
  9. How do notification flows work?
  10. Is your offering limited to businesses that sell software-as-a-service? Can any company be a SaaSy client?
  11. Are SaaSy and FastSpring different offerings?
  12. Do you support annual billing cycles?
  13. What makes SaaSy's customer service different?
  14. What currencies can my customers pay in?
  15. How does the Prepaid MasterCard work?
  16. How do I get paid as a vendor by SaaSy via PayPal without PayPal charging me a fee?
  17. How often will I be paid as a vendor?
  18. How much do I have to generate in transaction volume through SaaSy before I can get paid?
  19. What options do I have for the method of payment in terms of how I get paid as a vendor?
  20. How are refunds handled?
  21. Can I fully customize my store layout or does SaaSy have to?
  22. What languages do SaaSy order pages support?
  23. How do I setup Google Analytics to work with SaaSy?
  24. What are your policies on orders using free email addresses?
  25. How does your fraud tracking work?
  26. What is the uptime percentage of your servers?
 

What is the overall architecture for your subscription service?

Below is a detailed diagram of the components and their inter-relations. In this example, Alvin is providing a subscription-based service and John is the customer who is signing up.

Subscription Architecture

What are the Subscription API components in place currently?

Subscription APIs build on SpringBoard's—Saasy's e-commerce platform—existing APIs such as Authentication and Orders.

REST APIs specific to subscription include Get subscription, Update subscription, Cancel subscription, and Renew. All APIs require authentication. In addition to the REST APIs, there are also "push" notifications / IPN postbacks available for subscription activation and deactivation.  It is typical to use both the REST API and push notifications for a complete solution.  Please see the notification documentation for more information.

  • Get Subscription returns a single subscription identified by its reference. You can get that reference by defining a Postback notification.
    GET /company/{company}/subscription/{reference}
  • Update subscription updates an existing subscription with the given data. Be sure to set the "Content-Type" header in your requests to "application/xml", which will identify the format of the data being sent.
  • Cancel subscription uses the delete action to cause the cancellation of a subscription as of next billing period.
    DELETE /company/{company}/subscription/{reference}
  • Renew renews the subscription according to the predefined conditions and is used specifically for On-Demand subscriptions. Renews are limited to 1 per day / 4 successful per 30 days.
    POST /company/{company}/subscription/{reference}/renew

SpringBoard's Notification API includes Order Notifications, Return Notification, Subscription Notification and Security.

For detailed documentation and screenshots on the Notification API, see https://support.fastspring.com/entries/236490-api-notifications.

Subscription provides three kinds of notifications. "Subscription Activated", "Subscription Changed" and "Subscription Deactivated". The first will be sent on sign-up, the second if any property (end date, product) did change and the latter on cancelation. You're free to pass variables like e.g. #{subscription.reference}.

For a listing of all API topics in SpringBoard's documentation, see https://support.fastspring.com/entries/236487-api-subscriptionss

What is involved in a basic integration?

A basic integration consists of only a few steps. After your account is established post-signup, you can proceed as follows:

  1. Start by configuring the subscription plan settings via our UI.
  2. Then configure simple callbacks to the web-based application to notify it of subscription activity.
  3. Finally, direct customers to our hosted payment page.

This basic integration is an excellent starting point, and can be the launchpad for tighter integrations within the your web-based application, such as providing cancellation and plan changes directly from the app's UI.

Can you charge variable amounts each cycle for "metered billing"?

Yes and no. We support what we term On-Demand subscriptions. On-Demand subscriptions give you the ability to charge at your own schedule instead of a pre-defined schedule (such as monthly). This is especially useful for services which are credit-based, and have variable usage of the product/service over time. You keep track of the usage and simply call our API if a renewal is due. We do not measure usage ourselves, but do allow for flexible recurring billing for non-regular time increments. We see this "on demand" model as a powerful e-commerce aid to companies whose customers make variable usage of services and need to "refill" their accounts at unpredictable intervals.

Do you support trial versions with billing upon trial expiration?

Yes. We allow you to set the initial period cost to be different from the regular cycle. In the case of trial, this initial cost would most likely be set to zero, though it can be set to other amounts for "paid trials." Subsequent billings would be at the regular plan rate. Customers with free trials are not billed if they cancel their subscription within the trial period.

Do you support automatic customer migration from an exisisting SaaS e-commerce solution?

Not currently. The technical logistics of migration for recurring billing subscribers varies on a case-by-case basis. We are happy to speak with you about your current solution and how best to move to our full-service offering. Rather than migrating existing subscribers overnight, you can test FastSpring's SaaSy offering with new subscriptions and phase out your old solution over time; this methodology may serve to provide added comfort to your company's stakeholders and existing customers. There are other possible solutions as well. Let us know your needs, and we'll work together to find a good solution to migration logistics. Attention to individual customers' needs is a specialty of FastSpring's customer service.

Do you support credit card data portability?

Not currently. We are aware of the impetus in the subscription billing industry and SaaS market for secure standards surrounding credit card data portability and are closely following initiatives regarding this issue. However, our service is focused first and foremost on protecting our clients', their customers' and our own liability. We reduce risk by taking the burden of PCI compliance out of the hands of vendors and maintaining credit card data only on the gateway. We do of course allow full access to and exports of all customer and order data from within the SpringBoard UI. Let us know if you have specific needs or concerns regarding credit card data portability; we would be happy to hear about your business requirements, as we run a very customer support-driven development environment.

What is the technical flow of customer acquisition?

Customer sign ups happen on a secure, hosted SaaSy order page which can be branded to your site's look and feel. You drive traffic to this page, the customer signs up and enters credit card information. Then we notify your server regarding the new subscriber, pushing information that has been gathered in the order form and a unique ID to query. Using the ID, you can provide functionality in your site's control panel such as providing upgrade options, a cancellation link, and the ability to view billing history.

You acquire data from SpringBoard (SaaSy's e-commerce platform) in real-time behind the scenes, making sure your site and SpringBoard are in sync. Your system needs to be listening to notification events coming from SpringBoard, such as cancellations. We can help guide you through the necessary development steps for your site/application.

How do notification flows work?

Notification sequences are highly customizable and apply to all your subscription products, thereby creating a unified communication model. When a payment fails, you can immediately notify your customer, remind him/her several days later, send a final reminder, and set up a cancellation as well if the reminders are not acted upon, to give one example. Setting up notification flows in SpringBoard is easy and intuitive. Sequencing of notifications is quite flexible.

FastSpring offers proactive notifications for bi-annual, annual and 2 year subscriptions to inform customers in advance of credit card expiration. You can also send a reminder emails to customers when switching from a trial period to the normal billing cycle.

Is your offering limited to businesses that sell software-as-a-service? Can any company be a SaaSy client?

SaaSy is a great solution for both SaaS, Web 2.0 and Web Service companies that have a subscription-based offering and for companies selling downloadable software, games, e-books and other digital downloads

SaaSy vets prospective clients on an individual basis after receiving your sign up in order to determine if your business is a good fit for our model.

SaaSy does not allow the following types of content, products, or services: Adult or other inappropriate material; Tobacco; Pharma Sales; Gambling; Hate/Violence; 3rd Party Processing. We monitor your content regularly; if you violate this policy, your account will be immediately frozen and legal measures may be taken.

Our reasoning behind these decisions is the risk and responsibility we take on for our clients by becoming the trusted reseller / merchant of record.

Are SaaSy and FastSpring different offerings?

When you apply (sign up) for SaaSy, which is a particular service of FastSpring, you are signing up for a FastSpring account in general and indicating that you will make use of our subscription functionality. Specifically, you are applying for a FastSpring account that has subscription functionality exposed or opened up to you. Once approved, you will be getting supplemental subscription functionality at no extra cost. This means you can sell both one-time and recurring transaction-based products and services.

By signing up for SaaSy, you are indicating to us that you plan to sell services using recurring billing. On our part, our Customer Service department will contact you to make sure your business is a good fit for SaaSy prior to finalizing your account. There is for a SaaSy FastSpring account a bit more due diligence necessary on our part than for regular FastSpring accounts.

Do you support annual billing cycles?

Yes. We do support annual cycles, as well as 2-year and 3-year cycles.. We encourage businesses using this billing period model to communicate closely with their customers prior to re-bills, as annual charges can encounter both card failures and additional customer support if not treated proactively. SaaSy has built-in proactive reminder notifications for 6-month, annual, 2-year and 3-year subscriptions.

What makes SaaSy's customer service different?

We pride ourselves on offering the absolute best customer service in the industry, and our clients can attest to this.

Every member of our support staff possesses a thorough knowledge of the many configuration options of our SpringBoard platform. They can help you set up your store, improve your order page conversion rate and maximize your revenue per customer/LTV.

To see samples of what clients say about the experience of working with us, visit our client testimonials page.

When your customers have questions, they'll get a very prompt and complete response from us, leading to goodwill, great word-of-mouth marketing, higher customer retention and greater LTV, and ultimately increased profits.

What currencies can my customers pay with?

Your customers will be able to pay using AUD, BRL, CAD, CHF, DKK, EUR, GBP, HKD, INR, JPY, NZD, PLN, SEK, SGD and USD. Your customers will not have to select their preferred order page currency; their location will automatically be detected and the appropriate language and currency settings displayed.

How does the Prepaid MasterCard work?

The FastSpring Prepaid MasterCard provides near-immediate access to your revenues from anywhere in the world. Once revenues have been loaded onto your card, you can access your funds through normal points-of-sale, banks and ATM machines wherever MasterCard is accepted. No bank account is needed and your funds are secure. Additional fees may be charged by our partner for prepaid card setup and service. View a demo by clicking here: http://www.payoneer.com/newdemo.html

How do I get paid as a vendor by SaaSy via PayPal without PayPal charging me a fee?

Due to changes in PayPal policy, as of March 1st, 2012, transfers made to non-US based PayPal accounts will incur a 2% fee up to a maximum of $20 USD. We encourage international clients using PayPal to receive account payouts to consider switching to ACH / Direct Deposit, as there are no fees associated with this payment method.

How often will I be paid as a vendor?

Most companies choose to be paid twice per month, but if you prefer you can be paid monthly. With the 2x per month setting, you are paid every 2 weeks with about a 2 week lag. This means that sales from the 1st to the 14th would be paid around the 30th/31st, sales from 15th to end of the month are paid around the 15th of the following month. If you have set your payment cycle to be monthly, then on the 14th or 15th of each month, you will be paid for any sales from the previous month.

How much do I have to generate through SaaSy before I can get paid?

The minimum account balance required for payment is $25.00 unless you require payment via international wire, in which case the minimum is $100.00 and there is a fee of $15.00 per payment to cover our international bank wire fees.

What options do I have for the method of payment in terms of how I get paid as a vendor?

You have the option to be paid by SaaSy through direct deposit (ACH), PayPal™, wire, check, or the FastSpring PrePaid MasterCard via Payoneer. International direct deposit (ACH) is available for banks located in the US, Canada, Mexico, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
Wire payments are available globally. FastSpring does not charge a fee for the international direct deposit payments, but receiving bank fees, if any, may apply on your bank's end.

How are refunds handled?

You can do full or partial refunds within SpringBoard, our e-commerce platform. If we get refund requests, we'll send them to you for approval. Only if we strongly believe that an order is fraudulent or is about to turn into a chargeback would we refund without permission, and we would explain it first.

Because we incur expenses for refunds, we charge 3.5% on refunds. On a refund order, the original order plus its cost is refunded to you; you only get charged the 3.5% which covers our own order costs, including recovering merchant fees, overall server resources used and our potential support time for handling the refund.

Can I fully customize my store layout or does SaaSy have to?

The store layout file is a .zip with html, CSS and images to be used. With about 80% of clients we'll take the first shot at matching their site and then they can tweak from there; about 20% have skilled designer resources in place and they customize their store/order pages on their own.

What languages do SaaSy order pages support?

Arabic, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish and Turkish. If there’s another language you need, let us know, as we can often add new languages quickly. Your customers will not have to select their preferred order page language; their location and the appropriate language and currency settings will automatically be detected and displayed.

How do I setup Google Analytics to work with SaaSy?

Within our SpringBoard e-commerce platform, login and click to setup Google Analytics (GA) for your account under "External Tracking". You'll be given specific instructions on how to do so in 4 steps:

  • Step 1: Create a new GA website profile within an existing GA account (or create a GA account if you don’t have one) at: https://www.google.com/analytics
  • Step 2: Enter the ID Google assigned to the website profile
  • Step 3: Edit the GA website profile
  • Step 4: Save, and wait 24 hours for verification

What are your policies on orders using free email addresses?

We do accept orders from free email addresses. These days, if you don't, you are just eliminating far too many customers. Especially Gmail customers, who tend to get pretty angry if you deny them from using their Gmail email address when they order...

How does your fraud tracking work?

We use a combination of external fraud scoring and internal historical based scoring. There are countless order characteristics that are factored in, and most taken on their own will not prevent an order from completing. Email address and whether it is a free account is one factor that goes into scoring, as is IP address, location, distance from billing address location, country of origination, and about 10 other factors which all go into developing the fraud score. Those which are above a certain threshold fail. It is a pretty low % at this point which fail fraud checks, and we've got a very low chargeback rate, so the system has worked quite successfully over a number of years.

What is the uptime percentage of your servers?

Our sever uptime has been 99.94% over the last six months (as of June 2011) and over 99.9% for the last several years. For more information, you can consult a page outlining FastSpring's technical infrastructure.

Further Questions? Email Us.

SaaSy  A FastSpring Service

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