Running a subscription box business can be complicated. Intervals, charge dates, and buffer days need to all work together to ensure that your business runs efficiently. Creating a seamless customer experience will go a long way to keep people happy, and ensure that your business is successful.
Please see our outline for each feature, and our recommendations on building your subscriptions brand below:
Bold Subscriptions allows you to select from two main interval options when creating your subscriptions. This can be set to allow your customer to select their own order interval, or setting a fixed order interval.
This feature can be found on Step 3 when editing/creating a subscription within our app. This area will allow you to specify which interval type you would like to offer, as well as indicate a maximum interval length. By default, the subscription widget will display the shortest order frequency interval in your app settings if you allow your customers to select their own.
Let customer select order interval
With this option, you will be allowed to set a range for order frequency intervals that your customers can select from. This can be daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly order intervals.
This is beneficial for your customers as it allows them to select how often their products are refilled. For example, allowing your customers to order your products on a weekly, or monthly basis within the same subscription gives them more freedom to customize when and how often their products are received.
When selecting this option, you will see the ability to Set the maximum amount a customer can select for the intervals appear. This feature allows you to set the maximum interval that your customer can select on your product page. An example of this would be allowing your customers to order in weekly and monthly intervals within your subscription. If you set the maximum amount to 4, this will allow your customers to be able to choose between a subscription that renews every 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks; Or renew every 1, 2, 3 or 4 months.
How these intervals display on your product pages can be adjusted and personalized to your liking. This includes removing certain intervals from being displayed. Please see our step-by-step to Adjust the Frequency Intervals Display on the Bold Subscription Widget.
Set a Fixed Order Interval
Selecting this option does not give your customers the ability to select their own order frequency. Instead, you will be able to set when the orders will renew. With this feature, you can have the your customers subscription orders renew every 3 months (quarterly), every two weeks, or even once a year dependant on your preference and subscription business model.
With the weekly or monthly options in this setting, you are also able to decide whether your customers will be charged on the anniversary date of their purchase, or on a specified day/date of each interval.
The initial order will always process for your customers on the day of their original subscription purchase, but the recurring date can be adjusted depending on what works best for your business and fulfillment.
Buffer days are used to prevent a subscriber's initial and second orders from falling too close together. This is important if you've configured your monthly subscriptions to bill on the same day each month.
The usability of this feature depends on your store's subscription model. For most store owners, buffer days are important to prevent double billing. Typically, we recommend 15 buffer days for monthly subscriptions, but it can vary across different cases.
If a customer's first order was placed on the 31st of the previous month, and the monthly date to renew is the 5th of the current month, you most likely will not want the subscriber's second order to generate on the 5th.
Buffer days are the number of days leading up to your fixed monthly re-billing date, where if a customer's first order fell on one of those days, they would not have an order generate on the upcoming re-billing date. They would not have another subscription order generate until the next month on the 5th.
If you configure your fixed monthly re-billing date to the 1st of every month and set your buffer days to 15, this means that any first subscription order that is placed on your store within 15 days leading up to the 1st of the month will not have an order generate until the following month.
An order placed on October 25th would create a second recurring order on December 1st.
In the example above, the order placed on October 25th would replace the November 1st subscription order, which ensures that they do not bill so closely together. This order will count towards the November 1st order, and the second order will automatically be scheduled on the next cycle date.
Bold Subscriptions has thousands of customers with individual needs. Below are our recommendations for each feature from the Bold Subscriptions team directly, and will hopefully provide more insight on how to best use the interval & buffer days in a way that works great for your business.
Monthly Charge Date
Most subscriptions offered are for luxury services for your customers. Because of this, subscriptions are the first to be cut when someone is experiencing financial difficulty.
Statistically, customers tend to have more disposable income in the middle of the month. This means that making your renewal date on the 15th of the month - rather than the 1st - can help result in fewer cancellations. This has been proven to increase your stores average subscription length, and decrease your potential churn rate.
Every store offers their subscriptions and billing in different ways. For further questions on how this can be configured to best suit your stores needs, please contact our Merchant Success Team.
Our default recommended subscription model has the buffer days set to 14. With this configuration, you will always have a set cut off day, and last day of the previous month.
If you choose to charge customers earlier in the month (between the 5th-14th), please ensure that your buffer day value is always one number smaller than your re-billing date. This will ensure that your customers cut off day for subscriptions will always be the last day of the previous month.
With your set billing date always on the 15th of the month and your buffer days set to 14, the cut-off date is always the last day of the previous month. This will ensure that you will have a consistent, easily remembered sales window the entire prior month.
An example of this configuration would be if your customer makes a purchase in December. Their first shipment will be sent out in early January. All sales in January will ship out in February, and all sales in February will ship out in early March.
This model ensures that at the beginning of every month, you can export your batch of Shopify orders from the previous month that covers the 1st to the end of the month. This will always be the exact batch of orders for your store to fulfill and ship.
Depending on how long it takes your products to be packaged and shipped, your subscribers will be receiving their product around the same time they are billed for their next subscription order (in this case, the 15th). This tends to result in a positive customer experience, and results in fewer cancellations.
With this example, on January 1st, you are able to export all your subscription orders for the month of December. You can then ship out these orders anytime after January 1st, usually as quickly as possible.
Shopify allows you to export orders within a specific range, which makes this process very easy! For more information about this feature, please visit Exporting orders by Date within Shopify. Using the "recurring_order" tag, the app applies to every subscription order. You will then be able to segment your subscription orders from your one-time orders.
Please note that the shipping and fulfillment of your products is not handled within the Bold Subscriptions app. Our app specifically handles the orders and re-billing for the subscription products on your store.
If you change the date you charge customers, it also adjusts the cut-off date unless you change the number of buffer days to accommodate the change. This may not be consistent each month, as not all months have the same numbers of days.
For example, if you have your charge date set to the 15th of the month and your buffer days set to 14, your cut-off date is the last day of the previous month - either the 30th or the 31st depending on the month.
Buffer days is the number of days that fall before your monthly billing date. If your customer orders within this buffer period, they skip the upcoming billing cycle which causes their second order to fall within the following billing period.
The model described above is ideal because the cut off day will always be the last day of the previous month, regardless of how many days are within the month. using a custom schedule may not always allow for a fixed cut off date, which can make exporting orders from Shopify more difficult.
Shipping/Charge dates, buffer days, cut-off dates, sales windows and shipping windows can be quite complicated. The Bold Subscriptions general recommendation is to charge in the middle of the month with 14 buffer days. This is set to work for the majority of your customers, and if you stick with it - your store will be set up for success.