Purchase option apps provide merchants and customers with various ways to sell and buy products, beyond the "buy now, pay now, and ship now" experience. For example, customers can place an order for an album before it's released or place a subscription order to receive a bag of coffee beans every month.
This guide describes what purchase options are, how they work, and some tools and resources to consider before you get started.
What's a purchase option?Anchor link to section titled "What's a purchase option?"
A purchase option determines how customers can buy products from a store. Purchase options can help merchants manage cash flow and inventory, have flexibility on product launches, and diversify marketing strategies.
Purchase option typesAnchor link to section titled "Purchase option types"
Purchase options include subscriptions and deferred purchase options.
SubscriptionsAnchor link to section titled "Subscriptions"
Subscriptions enable customers to purchase products on a recurring basis. For example, customers can do the following:
- Pay-per-delivery subscription: Pay for products for each delivery. New orders are created at regular intervals. This option is also known as "Subscribe and save".
- Pre-paid subscription: Make a single payment upfront and receive products on a regular cadence until the order is fulfilled.
For more information, refer to Subscriptions.
Deferred purchase optionsAnchor link to section titled "Deferred purchase options"
Deferred purchase options enable customers to purchase products with deferred payments or deliveries. For example, customers can do the following:
- Pre-order: Place an order for products or variants that haven't been released yet.
- Try before you buy: Try products before completing payment, and send back the products that aren't wanted.
You can enable deposits for deferred purchase options. Shopify will store a customer's payment method so that merchants can collect the remaining balance amount without contacting the customer.
For more information, refer to Deferred purchase options.
How do purchase options work?Anchor link to section titled "How do purchase options work?"
Purchase options and selling plansAnchor link to section titled "Purchase options and selling plans"
A purchase option defines how a product can be sold and specifies selling plan policies around pricing, delivery, and more.
For example, a subscription can include "Delivery every week, 15% off" and "Delivered every two weeks, 10% off" selling plans.
Selling plans and policiesAnchor link to section titled "Selling plans and policies"
Selling plans include configurations of the following policies:
- Pricing: Defines pricing changes on a given product variant.
- Billing: Defines the intervals of time between the placement of an order and payment collection.
- Delivery: Defines when the order should be fulfilled, from the time that the order is created to the time that it leaves the merchant's possession.
- Inventory: Defines whether the inventory is committed when the order is created or when the order is fulfilled.
- You can create subscriptions by configuring pricing, delivery, and billing policies.
- You can create deferred purchase options by configuring pricing, inventory, delivery, and billing policies.
For more information, refer to Subscriptions and Deferred purchase options.
GraphQL Admin API objects for purchase optionsAnchor link to section titled "GraphQL Admin API objects for purchase options"
The following diagram illustrates the GraphQL Admin API objects for purchase options:
SellingPlanGroupobject includes one or more
SellingPlanobject specifies how a product can be sold, such as "Weekly delivery" or "Monthly delivery". Policies are organized into
SellingPlanGroupincludes products (
Product), product variants (
ProductVariant), and policy configurations (
Purchase option categoryAnchor link to section titled "Purchase option category"
category field represents the purchase option category that's used to filter orders by purchase option on the order page. The
category field supports the following approved categories:
If you want to offer a purchase option that isn't listed above, then set the
category field to
OTHER, and fill out our request form, where we'll review your request for a new purchase option.
Shopify's principlesAnchor link to section titled "Shopify's principles"
The following are our principles for extending the Shopify platform to support purchase options.
Selling and buying products in various waysAnchor link to section titled "Selling and buying products in various ways"
Purchase option apps provide merchants and customers with various ways to sell and buy products, beyond the "buy now, pay now, and ship now" experience.
Using checkout to ensure performance, integration, and sustainabilityAnchor link to section titled "Using checkout to ensure performance, integration, and sustainability"
Checkout determines charge amounts, payment terms, and payment and shipping methods. Checkout needs to be accurate and have the highest standards of performance and reliability at global scale.
Ensuring that merchants are using Shopify’s checkout guarantees performance and integration with Shopify’s core feature set and ecosystem of apps. As Shopify and its ecosystem evolve, checkout is crucial to ensure a sustainable long-term journey for merchants.
Modeling and storing purchase option business data in ShopifyAnchor link to section titled "Modeling and storing purchase option business data in Shopify"
To maximize merchant success, Shopify models and stores business operational data related to purchase options. A centralized location for key purchase option business data can help merchants mitigate integrity risks and reduce synchronization costs.
Both Shopify and apps should be able to access the purchase option business data to help merchants understand and grow their business. The following are examples of purchase option business data:
- What purchase options are offered
- Who the purchase options customers are
- What products customers buy using purchase options
- How customers are paying for their purchase option orders
- How purchase option data changes over time
Providing creative solutions for merchantsAnchor link to section titled "Providing creative solutions for merchants"
Merchants can use purchase options in various ways depending on the industry, product type (physical or digital), and business size. Shopify’s role is to create a platform where developers can provide creative solutions for merchants to effectively manage their purchase options.
RequirementsAnchor link to section titled "Requirements"
Access scopesAnchor link to section titled "Access scopes"
To use the GraphQL Admin API for purchase options, your app needs to request the following access scopes:
|Access scope||Description||Subscriptions||Deferred purchase options|
||Allows your app to write products||✔||✔|
|Allows your app to read all orders rather than the default window of 60 days worth of orders||✔||✔|
||Allows your app to read customer payment methods||✔||✔|
||Allows your app to read subscription contract mutations for contracts they own||✔|
||Allows your app to write subscription contract mutations for contracts they own||✔|
||Allows your app to read purchase options||✔|
||Allows your app to write purchase options||✔|
||Allows your app to read payment mandates||✔|
||Allows your app to write payment mandates||✔|
Developer tools and resourcesAnchor link to section titled "Developer tools and resources"
To help you build and manage purchase options, Shopify offers the following developer tools and resources.
|App extensions||Surfaces your app’s purchase options in the Shopify admin|
|App proxy||Fetches data from an app proxy server to display on a page of the online store. By using an app proxy, customers can have a seamless experience managing their existing agreements under the shop’s domain.|
|Storefront Liquid drops and properties||Allows you to integrate purchase options into a store's theme|
UX guidelinesAnchor link to section titled "UX guidelines"
For information on UX guidelines, refer to the following resources:
- Learn about subscriptions
- Learn about deferred purchase options