What is Subsail: Importing orders

My new subscription management service for indie publishers, Subsail, will launch in a few weeks. This is the first of a series of introductory posts explaining what Subsail can do and how it will work.

So, you make a magazine. You build a website and you build an online shop to sell your issues. You decide to sell subscriptions too, as you know they are a good source of upfront revenue and, well, you’re a magazine.

You add a subscription “product” to your store. You get some subscription orders. Hooray!

Now what.

How do you get that data (subscriber name, address, issues bought etc) out of your generic e-commerce platform and into a sensible system alongside your other subscriptions, a system that makes it easy to know which subscribers need which issue and track what has been sent to whom.

This is one of publishers’ main problems that Subsail has been created to solve. Read on to find out how Subsail gathers your orders and makes them available within your account…

1. Automatic imports (from your online shop)

Importing orders is one of the first things you’ll need to set up in your Subsail account. Luckily it’s very easy.

If you are using PayPal, Shopify or Woocommerce for your online sales, your subscription orders can be pulled into Subsail automatically, making them instantly visible within your account. This is done by setting up things called “webhooks” (a Subsail-provided URL to which your order data is sent) in your shop admin. It’s quick to do and it’s something you can just “set and forget.”

You then tell Subsail which of the products in your shop are subscriptions—based on their product ID—so Subsail can concentrate on importing and processing the correct orders. Within seconds of a customer purchasing a subscription, their personal and order details will be in your Subsail account, ready to be segmented, exported or synced with a MailChimp list.

It’s really that simple. This is the first time I’ve built a system like this and it actually feels a little bit like magic. 💥

2. Manual imports (upload a file)

If you sell on another e-commerce platform (eg: Squarespace, who don’t provide webhooks) or you want to import your current subscribers (a very good idea!), you can import data by simply uploading a spreadsheet file (in CSV format). There are certain columns Subsail requires (like name, address, which issues) but simply renaming some columns in your current spreadsheet may be enough to get it working. I’ll provide an example spreadsheet to work off, to make sure your data gets imported perfectly.

3. Sell on Subsail

Soon after launch, I’ll be pushing out the ability to sell subscriptions directly from Subsail. I’ll explain more about this in another post as I get closer to this point (I’m still coding the base for this feature), but basically the idea is two-fold: allow publishers to offer renewing subscriptions (impossible on generic e-commerce platforms) and make getting subscriptions into Subsail as easy as possible.

Your “subscription shop” will be available on a subdomain (like subscribe.yourmag.com) and will make it really easy and fast for readers to buy subscriptions that renew. Bingo.

Next, I’ll explain how your subscriptions and subscribers can be managed, viewed, filtered and exported. Subscribe to get the next post in your feed.

If you have any questions about Subsail, or you are interested in being part of the initial closed launch, please email me at dan@subsail.com or leave a message on the Subsail homepage.

Thanks for reading!