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Effectively Working with Recurring Profiles in Magento

Updated on May 28, 2011

Recurring Profiles in Magento

The latest versions of Magento have facilitated developers of online marketing websites fresh ability to set up and configure recurring profiles for payments on products. These recurring profiles are normally used for products offered with installment payment plans or for recurring subscriptions. When a customer intends to purchase a product under such a system from the online store, Magento redirects the customers to a third party payment system. In that system, the customer signs or authorizes a ‘recurring payment agreement’ with the online store. When the customer furnishes this authorization through this recurring payment agreement, the merchant could charge the account of the customer in the future again, according to the setting of the recurring profile.

This recurring profiles facility in Magento is an account record in the third party payment system. This account record captures payments on an agreed regular basis, according to the defined payment schedule entered in the recurring profile. This recurring profile is capable of submitting the information about the payment frequency initiated to the payment system. At present, Magento supports purchase items with recurring profiles only for PayPal payment system through the Express Checkout method only as default payment option.

The lifecycle of the Magento recurring profile is usually as follows:

  • The online merchant sets up the recurring profiles on products for both ‘simple’ and ‘virtual’ product types
  • After this, the customers adds a product to the shipping cart with a recurring profile
  • When this process is over, the customer selects the default PayPal payment method and is automatically redirected to the PayPal payment system
  • PayPal payment system allows the customer to create a recurring profile with a defined payment schedule
  • Customer is redirected back to the online store to place the order or complete the order process
  • Magento creates the order and the customer is provided with the recurring profile ID

Magento allows only simple and virtual type of products to be preconfigured for recurring profiles by default. For such product types, the Admin Panel gets loaded with a Recurring Profile tab on the product editor in the panel. This could be accessed in the panel through Catalog-Manage Products. The parameters for the recurring profiles set by the online merchant are displayed in the online store on the product view page. It is possible for the online merchant to enable recurring profiles for other product types also, based on specific needs. This could be done by using the two system attributes furnished by Magento for product types like Grouped, Downloadable, Gift Card, Configurable, and Bundle. The merchant could enable this feature by accessing Catalog-Attributes-Manage Attributes in the Admin Panel. The merchant should first select the ‘is_recurring’ and subsequently select the ‘recurring_profile’. These system attributes could be selected from the list in Manage Attribute in the panel. The merchant should go to the ‘Apply To’ field in the Attribute Properties panel for each of these attributes and add the particular product type for which the merchant wishes to allow recurring profiles.

When the merchant enables the recurring file for a product, it becomes what is termed as ‘nominal item’. The nominal items behave like other regular products in the website pages until the customer adds them to the shopping cart. At that stage, the nominal items do not get added to regular totals for other products like taxes, subtotal, and grand total. The merchant could not apply reward points, store credit, and gift cards to nominal items. Subtotal, shipping, tax, and other charges for the nominal products are calculated separately for them. Finally, all the nominal totals are summed into a separate nominal grand total. At present, Magento allows only one nominal item to be added to the shopping cart individually and it is not possible to add a regular product and a nominal product simultaneously to the shopping cart. This is done to enable the submission of each recurring file separately.


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      Paul Stanely 2 years ago

      Magento Partial Recurring Payment is a great payment solution to increase the sales.

      I would recommend to use an extension like FME Layaway Payments Extension having tons of features to offer recurring payments option to your potential customers.

      The powerful admin panel of this extension allows you to track all the installments easily.