Work with continuity programs
In a continuity program, also known as a recurring order program, customers receive regular product shipments according to a predefined schedule. Continuity programs provide the ability to create continuity schedules that will have a scheduled shipment and payment.
When a customer purchases a continuity program, they will receive a series of orders that are sent at specified intervals. Orders are generated automatically from the continuity schedule, and payments are billed automatically. If no payment schedule is defined, and the continuity program has not been defined as a bill up-front program, the customer will be billed for the full order total when each order ships.
The continuity schedule provides full flexibility in defining programs that meet different business needs.
For example, you can set up the following information:
- Start date of the program
- Shipment intervals, such as monthly, quarterly, and yearly
- Payment cycles to be used with each interval
- Customer payment method, whether the customer will pay for the program up-front with a one-time charge, or if they will be charged for each order as it ships
To work with a continuity program, follow this procedure:
Set the continuity parameters on the Call center parameters page.
Create a continuity program that gives details on when the payments must be completed (payment schedule), whether the customer has opted for an up-front billing, and when shipments will be processed. A list of products that are included in the program must also be created. The continuity program must be created before an item can be linked to it. You can set up multiple payment schedules to know when you can expect payments to be made.
Create a parent product to represent the continuity program. The parent product doesn't specify the individual products that the customer receives in each shipment.
Link your continuity program to a continuity parent item. If you add the parent product to a sales order, the Continuity page opens to allow the user to register a recurring payment and adjust shipment dates, if necessary. If you are using up-front billing, ensure that the parent item has a defined sales price.
After you've set up a continuity program as described, you can create a continuity order for a customer.
When you add a continuity item to a sales order, you'll be prompted to enter and select the information and payment for the continuity children orders. Because the system will automatically bill for future orders, only customer account or credit card payment types are acceptable. It's possible to order multiple continuity items on the same sales order and to order additional noncontinuity-related items on the same sales order. You'll then need to determine if you will use a bill up-front continuity plan or a pay-as-you-go continuity plan. The plan that you select will determine how payment will be made and how payment should be set up.
Batch processing of a continuity program
Continuity schedules have a continuous relationship with orders throughout their life cycles. To keep all fields updated, we recommend that you run several batch jobs on a regular basis:
- Update continuity current events period – Updates the current event on continuity schedules based on the period schedule.
- Extend continuity lines – Extends the number of times that a continuity event can be repeated. The repetition of shipments can then extend beyond the limit that was set in the Continuity repeat threshold field in the call center parameters.
- Create continuity children orders – Used to create the children orders from the continuity order with certain conditions.
- Process continuity payments – Used to process billing and notifications for payments that are attached to continuity orders.
- Close continuity parent lines and orders – Used to close the continuity parent lines when all child orders have been shipped. The continuity parent lines never actually ship; only the child lines would ship. To prevent user confusion, it’s helpful to run this job so that the parent sales order does not look like it is still open for processing.
- Continuity update batch – Used to sync changes that are made to the master continuity program with the continuity parent sales orders.