There’s no doubt that recurring billing is one of the hottest strategies when it comes to digital products at the moment, and with good reason. Once you’ve set up a number of your customers on a subscription-style arrangement for making purchases, those sales can be relied on from one month to the next, and in the business world, that is solid gold.
A reliable Open Source Billing Solution also provides a firm foundation for growth, just because it allows you to count on a specific amount of income during any period so that you can focus your efforts on reaching others as well. Here are some recommendations for using Open Source Billing Solutions to scale your online business, and begin achieving the kind of growth you first envisioned when starting.
1 – Use Software with a Back End Subscription Service
One of the most convenient ways of establishing a billing operation for your business is to make use of a specialized software product such as Kill Bill, which is specifically set up to handle subscription service kinds of activities. The back end portion of this software will handle API calls that process orders, set up and maintain subscriptions or renewals, and a whole host of other customer activities that are all associated with the Open Source Billing Solution model.
2 – Install a Relational Database
Between this back end and a functional user interface would be a relational database that would retrieve all information necessary for the management of invoices, payments, and subscriptions. All your customer information would reside in this database, and that would make it convenient for you to instantly retrieve any data about a specific customer, and the status of their billing.
3 – Set Up a User Interface
Another necessary component of this setup would be to establish a powerful and very functional user interface that allows your support or finance personnel to interact with the back end server daily. This user interface would permit your employees to carry out important tasks such as the adjustment of any invoices, or the issuance of refunds when necessary.
4 – Customize these Features for your own Business
On top of the software features described above, you may need to create customized plug-ins to further enable the billing and payments solution, based on the type of business you’re doing and the customers you have. This can be accomplished by writing your own plug-ins if you have programmers in-house, or by hiring technical professionals who have software development skills.
These plug-ins can either modify the processes and behaviors of your existing software, or they can be written to integrate with other vendors to take advantage of their software products. Some software systems already have open-source plug-ins written for them, which you may be able to take advantage of. If you can’t find anything that’s a good fit for your own company, you can use an open-source plug-in as a starting point and modify it to suit your needs.
5 – Use only the Features that really matter to your Business
For some companies, fraud detection and other security measures are an important business aspect. There are a number of open-source plug-ins that can handle this kind of activity, and you’ll certainly be able to find something that relates to your own business.
You might also be interested in a tax provider plug-in that you can use to manage the state taxes for sale transactions (as well as other tax implications for your business). Perhaps you will need a credit card account updater plug-in, which can routinely monitor customers’ credit cards that are due to expire and help with credit card account updates to avoid issues with missed customer payments.
6 – Integrate your other Systems with the new Billing System
When you’re looking to install a new, open-source billing setup, you need to be sure that your existing systems can easily integrate with it, so that you will be able to take the best advantage of the new features. Internally, this means you’ll need to be able to have good communication between your accounting system and the new billing system, as well as good integration with financial reporting software, your email system, analytics, business intelligence, and any partnerships you may have.
On the external side, you’ll need to make sure you can integrate payment processing and gateways, mobile apps, and (if you have one) your e-commerce site.
7 – Find a Global Open Source Billing Solution
When you’re looking to scale up through Open Source Billing, you have to be really well versed about international factors, since part of your growth may come from the international market. This means, of course, that you’ll need to be able to provide support for multiple currencies, and you may also need to be able to support multiple languages.
Any representations of dates and times need to be displayed in the proper format, and the same can be said of any content that includes currencies.
In the same area of international currencies, you’ll have to be very aware of local rules that affect rounding. Unlike some other aspects of international communication, rounding is not just another aspect of the display layer, and it has to actually be incorporated right into whatever billing system you’re using. For example, if you were to attempt to round up the items that have been invoiced already, they may or may not add up to the total originally displayed.
Another thing to keep in mind for your international markets is the handling of time zones. Your billing system has to be able to handle time zone logic correctly so that all customers are presented with invoices on the appropriate days and no mistakes creep into the billing logic.