What is the difference between subscriptions and club orders, and would using subscriptions for clubs be beneficial?
What’s the Difference?
In the most basic terms, club processing is used when shipment contents and prices change with each shipment (possible examples: wine clubs, olive oil clubs, beer clubs, etc.), and subscriptions are used when a customer is getting the same product, typically at the same price, at each interval (possible examples: vitamins, a particular coffee, pet food).
Typically, club orders are periodically processed manually by creating the orders in bulk each period, populating the bulk orders with the current products at the current prices and discounts. Subscription orders, once set up the first time, simply automatically appear in the OMS on a periodic basis, so the merchant doesn’t need to manually create periodic orders.
Subscriptions: A customer gets the same bottle of vitamins each month (or other interval). At the merchant’s option when setting up the subscription, the customer pays the same price every month, or the customer pays a varied price each month depending upon the merchant’s then-current price.
Clubs: A customer gets different wines/oils/coffees (etc.) every quarter (or other interval), and each shipment costs whatever the contents cost at retail less any applicable discount.
Can I use Subscriptions for my Club, even if Contents Change?
Yes, in some circumstances. The answer to this depends upon several factors, including overall club structure, whether your club shipments are the same price each interval or not, and who is doing your fulfillment (and what arrangement you have with them).
For example, if you offer club shipments of varied contents at a percent off retail, or if you need your orders and packing slips to list the shipment contents so your fulfillment house or staff can properly pack and ship the orders, then subscription functionality won’t work for you. This is true for most of our winery clients.
However, if you offer club shipments that are always the same price, AND you don’t need the specific line items to show up on the order, then using the subscription functionality could work for you, and may save you time because you wouldn’t have to manually create the bulk orders.
One example of this would be if the product ordered is simply “Club Shipment” at $59 plus shipping for each shipment, and your fulfillment staff knows which two bottles those are without seeing them on the packing slip. Another example would be the situation in which your club requires an annual fee which isn't related to a shipment and you want to charge the annual fee automatically.