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How to set sequential subscriptions in Subbly?

Sequential subscriptions is a popular business model and we're frequently having these types of questions on the support chat. In this article, we'll explain how you can utilize Subbly to build sequential subscription product.

What are sequential subscriptions?

For those wondering on what sequential subscription model actually is, this type of box is the subscription box that provides the same experience to it's customers in a way that builds on top of itself in a sequential order. This practically means that every new subscriber gets qualified for getting the boxes in a sequential order starting from the Box 1, followed by Box 2, 3, and so on, regardless of when they signed up for the product. 

This business model is frequently being used by companies offering an education-based content. Drawback/limitation of the model is definitely needing to have a large stock of items at hand at every point (these companies are not sourcing their products on a monthly basis), but also having a tech-stack to support this may be quite challenging. 

That's where Subbly comes into play though

Some examples of businesses offering a sequential subscription box experience would be Creation Crate or Hunt a Killer

How to setup sequential subscription in Subbly?

Like other regular types of subscriptions, sequential ones do not differ when it comes to setting up the billing/shipping cadence for these, so you can stick with the instructions on how to create the subscription product on Subbly which you can find HERE

However, the true magic here comes with setting up automated workflows that are streamlining the process of adding different items (SKUs) to particular order numbers for the customers (ie., add SKU A for the 1st order, than add SKU B for the customer's 2nd order and so on going forward...).  

There are couple of options on how you can set these up on Subbly, please check the setup steps for these below.

In order to set these up properly, you'll need to be using both the inventory management and automations features on Subbly.

Adding SKUs through automations

In order to begin, you have to create the inventory items that you will use on your sequential subscription.

After the initial set-up is done, you have to create a subscription product without adding an inventory item to the subscription, unless it's an item that will be shipped on every period besides the one that will be added through automations. You can learn more about automations HERE.

Setting up the automation(s) for each order/shipment

You have to create a set of automations, one action per every shipment.

1st shipment automation recipe:

  • Trigger: Order created
  • Action: Add inventory item
  • Action's Data: Choose the SKU corresponding to the subscription product related to the 1st shipment.
  • Conditions:

1) Successful shipments count (key) + is equal to (operator) + 0 (value)

2) Product (key) + is equal to (operator) + product name (value)

2nd shipment automation recipe:

  • Trigger: Order created
  • Action: Add inventory item
  • Action's Data: Choose the SKU corresponding to the subscription product related to the 2nd shipment.
  • Conditions:

1) Successful shipments count (key) + is equal to (operator) + 1 (value)

2) Product (key) +is equal to (operator) + product name (value)

You need to now the same for every shipment until the end of customer's subscription. Ie., if you have a rotating yearly sequential subscription product, where you're sending 12 different shipments in a sequence, you need to setup 12 different automations like this, separate one for each one of the shipments. The only thing you need to change there is the condition for successful shipments count or order total amount (whichever condition you end up to be using), and also the SKU item which is getting added each order.
Idea here is to automate adding a specific SKU each month/order for the customer. By setting up the automations you're basically mandating to add a specific SKU item if the order count for a specific subscription is N. So, for example, if the order count is 6 (ie., if it's the 6th order for the customer) than add SKU Y (add specific SKU for that order which will be visible and available for fulfillment).

In case that your customer's subscription is paused/skipped, you will be able to change the successful shipments to match the current sequential subscription product by navigating to the subscription in question and clicking on the following option:

Handling sequential orders by checking the orders slip

If you don't want to bother setting up automation workflows, there's still a very manual way of doing fulfillment for the sequential subscriptions (which we wouldn't recommend as it's not really built to scale). If you're checking and relying solely on order slips when fulfilling the orders, you can just be checking up on the customer or subscription order count numbers on each order slip.

  • Subscription shipment number - shows the serial number of the order for a specific customer's subscription. If it's 1 as in an example above, that means that we're looking into the very first order for that specific customer's subscription and we should be sending the Box 1 based on this. 
  • Customer shipment number - shows the serial number of the order for the customer's profile as a whole. Remember, customer can have X different subscriptions to his/her name. This metric shows the number of orders for all of the customer's subscriptions (not only for the specific subscription). 

When handling customer's orders and managing fulfillment, you can always export the orders in CSV and these values will be part of the CSV as well, so you can use that info to know what shipment is due for what customer.

If not automated, when managing order fulfillment, you will be able to add the necessary shipping item manually from inside the order slip by selecting it from the drop-down as explained HERE. And you can do that in bulk as well from the Orders tab by selecting the orders and Manage Shipping Items as the action.

If you're using the integration we have with Shipstation, no worries at all. We will pass this info as well so you'll see the subscription shipment number there as well

The subscription shipment number is not transferred to Pirate Ship as of yet.


How does this work with pausing?

Pausing won't have any effect on this. Order count will continue regularly after the customer's subscriptions gets unpaused and after next order gets created for the customer. 

How would this work for cancelling and resubscribing at a later date?

It will still work. Remember that we're tracking the customer shipment number as the historic number of orders for the customer. As long as the customer resubscribes using the same email he/she was using before, you will still be able to see what is the next order he/she should be getting in sequence. 

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