Created in 2001, PatternReview.com provides sewing enthusiasts with an online forum for discussing and providing reviews of sewing patterns, techniques and machinery, as well as a variety of instructional online classes.
"I've always been a fan of reviews," says Deepika Prakash, founder of PatternReview.com and a software engineer, "and at the time I started PatternReview.com, I was learning to sew. I combined my technical know-how with my new hobby and created the Web site." Since then thousands of sewing enthusiasts have used PatternReview.com to research and collaborate on sewing projects.
While PatternReview.com started as a database of reviews, visitors quickly began requesting more advanced content, including access to pattern catalogs and photo-sharing capabilities. "As the site grew, members wanted a more advanced version and suggested that I create a subscription based membership that would enable them to use newly designed advanced features on the site," Prakash explains.
In response, Prakash designed a paid membership program called "Friends of PR," available as an annual or six-month subscription. All "Friends of PR" customers gain exclusive access to the site's enhanced features, which include product discounts, online pattern catalogs, and a personal Web site and photo album.
To start processing payments quickly for the new subscription-based service, Deepika initially turned to PayPal—but soon experienced flaws in the system that resulted in numerous canceled subscriptions. "Puzzled members contacted me reporting that their subscription had been canceled just because they updated their account!" says Deepika.
In March 2007, Deepika implemented the Application Programming Interface (API) for Authorize.Net's Automated Recurring Billing™ (ARB). Unlike subscription payments that are created or modified manually, the ARB API allows for subscriptions to be created, updated or cancelled automatically. Customers can subscribe to services directly through a merchant's custom payment form, shopping cart or other application—saving merchants time and eliminating potential human error when manually creating or updating subscriptions.
"You cannot imagine how excited I was," says Prakash. "Through the API, PatternReview.com now creates, cancels or modifies subscriptions automatically."
In addition to automated subscription management, Authorize.Net's ARB API provides a variety of subscription length options, and allows merchants to offer new customers a trial period and promotional pricing.
ARB also notifies merchants of impending credit card and/or subscription expirations. Prakash used the API to allow customers to update their payment information accordingly. "I also created a program that sends e-mails to customers with upcoming credit card expirations and includes a link to an update form," Deepika explains, "and the updates are processed through the API. It's seamless."
With Authorize.Net's ARB API, PatternReview.com has fully automated its subscription payment management—making operations more efficient. The company can now consider offering more subscription types, including quarterly or even monthly options.
"Creating, modifying or cancelling subscriptions—these are all things that I used to have to do manually," says Prakash. "With the API, it's all happening in real-time, and that allows me to focus on growing my business."