Recurring subscription payment options
2014 24 Feb

By Sumeet Pareek

When you sell on the internet, you customers either buy the product and pay it’s cost one time, or they buy a service or a subscription and signup to pay a recurring fee.

In this blog lets compare various ways of how you can use Drupal to build a site with recurring billing. 

Example use cases of such a site could be - 

  1. Selling software or support as a service. Such as services from Acquia.
  2. Providing access to premium content. Such as video tutorials from druaplize.me.
  3. Promoting selected content on the site. Such as featured listings on craiglist.
  4. Many more..

While some of the intricacies that separate recurring-billing from one-time billing are - 

  1. Multiple plans which the customers can upgrade and downgrade between.
  2. Billing cycles and intervals.
  3. Failed payments, grace periods and retrials.
  4. Subscription management.
  5. Compliance considerations.

Now, Drupal is a great platform to build e-commerce sites of all sizes and variety because it brings together the best of many worlds - quick to start distributions + modules to extend functionality +custom development + integration with 3rd party services

When building a Drupal site with recurring payments, you can typically think of the entire setup as made of the following components -

  • What you are selling.
  • Business logic behind the online store.
  • The payment gateway.

Available drupal modules, building custom drupal solutions and ready to use 3rd party tools have a overlap in all the above 3 areas and it is worthwhile to compare them.

Drupal + Recurly + Recurly Roles

Recurly adds a SaaS based middle layer to recurring payments and subscriptions. Key features include ability to support multiple payment gateways (http://recurly.com/gateways/), option to host customized checkout pages with recurrly or embed payment form in your website using javascript, customer care support among others. A full list of features can be found here (http://recurly.com/features/

The two drupal modules (https://drupal.org/project/recurly) and (https://drupal.org/project/recurly_roles) together allow for quick integration of the service with Drupal sites. If you require to give certain users of your site privileged access or role, and do not need a full e-commerce store running on top of commerce module, this setup should get you there.

Example usage scenario