Auto Order Tab

Configuring recurring billing and/or an "autoship" schedule for an item in the item editor.

About Auto Orders

The Auto Order feature is typically used for consumables but not necessarily restricted to those (recurring subscriptions are also configured using auto order functionality). There are two different types of auto orders; Customer Selectable (schedule) and Automatic.  The Customer Selectable auto order will re-order the same item purchased in the original order. The more popular Automatic auto order is much more flexible, giving you the ability to offer one or more different items for the recurring order. A good example of an Automatic Order would be where you offer a customer a "Free Trial" of a product which, when purchased, enrolls them into an automatic and periodic purchase of the full blown product at normal or discounted prices. The beauty of this feature is that you, the merchant, can configure the auto and recurring orders in various ways.

Auto Order Tab (Item Editor)

To configure an Auto Order, navigate to:

Main MenuItem ManagementItems → Click Item Id → Auto Order [tab]

The Auto Order [tab] is where you will configure the item to become an Auto Order, meaning, when this item is purchased, it will, based upon your settings, automatically create subsequent (auto) orders. As mentioned earlier, merchants can configure two different types of Auto Orders; Customer Selectable and Automatic. You can configure only ONE type per item.

Customer Selectable Auto Order

A Customer Selectable Auto Order is a fairly basic version that automatically re-orders the same item purchased during the original order. It will give the customer the opportunity to select the "schedule" (frequency) they want the order to re-occur. The choice is made during checkout but you (the merchant) will first indicate which recurring schedule options you want to make available for the customer.

The Customer Selectable Auto Orderable Type is compatible with the regular (multi-page) checkout only, so do not select this option if you wish to use the single page checkout.

Click on the radio button to the left of the Customer Selectable field.

Next, set the frequency (schedule) of Auto Order. Click in the check box to the left of the interval(s) that you want to appear in a drop-down menu. The options you select here will appear as a choice for the customer's selection during the checkout process. They will be shown on a special "Auto Order" screen late in the checkout process. The customer will only be able to select one of the options.

Field NameDescription

Free Shipping

If you want to offer the customer free shipping for selecting to be on auto ship, check the Free Shipping box. 
CostIf you want to provide shipping at an alternate fixed cost, enter the cost into the cost field. 
Future Item IDAllows you to change the item for the recurring order moving forward.
Future Item CostAllows you to change the cost of the Future item set above. This field does nothing on it own.
Pre-shipment Notice DaysThe number of days before the item ships to notify the customer.
Prohibit Cards Expiring WithinThe minimum number of months into the future that a card must be good for in order to purchase this auto order item.

Click on the "Save" button when finished.

The following is a sample "Auto Order" screen that the customer will see during checkout. Notice how the drop down menu appears for the customer's selection. Hence, they are given the ability to determine the schedule for their auto order.

This screen DOES NOT appear for the "Automatic" type of auto order (explained below).

Automatic Auto Order

The Automatic Auto Order differs significantly from the Customer Selectable type. Based upon the configuration (by the merchant), the customer will be automatically enrolled in an auto order program that you define through a series of purchase item and delay (days) steps. The enrollment can be for the same original item purchased or for a different store item(s) that you will define.

  1. The customer will not be given any opportunity to select a schedule during the checkout because it is predetermined by the merchant.
  2. All of the pertinent details that the merchant wants to convey to the customer about this type of Auto Order must be accomplished on their store web site, the item descriptions and, optionally, via checkout terms.

An example of a common usage is where a merchant will offer customers a "trial item" that, when purchased, will automatically enroll them in a predefined auto order program. The trlal item is generally at a reduced price and can even be a different item.

"Regular" Items & "Kit" items

If I am creating a kit item can it contain a component item that has an auto order schedule configured on it?

Yes, but only if the kit item itself does not have an auto order schedule defined. It's an "either / or" scenario. So, you have the option of defining an auto order in the auto order tab of the kit item or, if the kit item has no auto order configuration in its auto order tab, one or more of the component items can be configured as auto order items.

Navigate to:

Main MenuItem ManagementItems → Click Item Id → Items (tab)

You will typically have two store items created in you store. One will be the "trial" ( special priced item) and the 2nd will be the item you will enroll them in. A good way to think of them is that the 1st Item is the Auto Order Item and the 2nd Item is the Recurring Order Item. If either item don't exist, follow the instruction for creating a new store item.

It's a good idea to print your item list or at least write down the Item ID's concerned so you will have easy reference to them when you configure the Auto Order portion.

Keep in mind that only the Initial Item will have an Auto Order configuration. The recurring Item(s) will not.

From you Item list, click on the Item Id of your Auto Order Item.  At the Item Editor screen, click on the "Auto Order" tab. The following screen will appear.

Click on the radio button to the left of the "Automatic" field. Options and Steps will appear for configuration:


Option Name


Free ShippingWhen checked, the first item that is purchased will qualify for free shipping as well as the rebilled items. Often this is used when offering the customer an optional auto order schedule, but can also be used for fixed schedule auto orders. This option requires that you first configured the qualifying free shipping methods by configuring the free shipping methods with the "Qualifies for Free Shipping" configuration in the shipping method editor. (see: Shipping Method Configuration#FreeShipping)

Pause Rebilling

When an auto order item is paused, all active auto orders for that item will push back the orders one day at a time until the auto order item is unpaused. Once the item is unpaused all active auto orders will being rebilling the next midnight.

Cancel Other Auto Orders

Checking this box will cancel any other auto order that this customer has when the order is placed.

One Per Customer

Check this box to keep a customer from purchasing more than one. This, in theory, is to help prevent abuse.

No Easy Cancel

An Auto Order notification (see below) is normally sent to the customer upon successful ordering. If this box is checked, the order notification will not be sent. The customer will have to contact you by other means to cancel their auto order.

Cancel Item ID

If you enter an item ID here, when the customer cancels the auto order will automatically change to charge the customer one more time for the cancel
item ID, and then the auto order is cancelled.

Upgrade/Downgrade Item IdsEnter the Item Id's that will be used to build a customer service friendly drop down list used in the auto order editor page.
Refund Other Auto OrdersIf a refund is attempted on an order that contains this item, other orders that are part of the same auto order will display for refund as well. This feature is useful if you're doing a payment plan for example.
Prohibit Cards Expiring WIthinThe minimum number of months into the future that a card must be good for in order to purchase this auto order item.


Item Step

Here you will tell UltraCart which Store Item will be involved in the recurring order process. This may be the same or a different item. You must configure at least one Item Step. Some merchants will configure more than one item in their auto order program and will therefore create additional Item Steps.

To create your first Item Step click on the "New Item Step" button. A new set of fields will appear that require completion. You will see the statistics of the first (original) order listed under the Sample Order Schedule.

Item Step fields


Step Item ID

Enter the ID of the store item that you want to be ordered automatically. This can be the original item or it can be a different item.

Arbitrary Unit Cost

If applicable, you can enter a cost that is different the the cost defined for the item in the Cost field on the Item tab of the item editor, otherwise leave this field blank.

Arbitrary Unit Cost vs. Override Unit Cost

Please note that the Arbitrary Unit Cost will apply an Override Unit Cost in each auto order customers' auto order record. So, if for example you are providing discounts to certain customers by editing their auto order and using the Override Unit Cost, but the auto order item is configured with an arbitrary cost, then each time a new order is processed, the arbitrary unit cost applied at the auto order item will override the cost you manually set at the customers auto order record.


Select, via the drop-down list, how often the order will reoccur. The customer will not be offered a choice on the recurrence frequency like they are in the customer selectable auto order.

Repeat Count

This feature allows the merchant to indicate how long you want the recurring order to occur. For example, if the merchant advertises a "free trial" (the first order) along with a 6 month enrollment, you would enter a 6 in the box. Leave this field blank for indefinite reorder schedule.

Pre-shipment Notice Days

The number of days before the next shipment that the customer should be notified. The customer will receive an email letting them know the next product that will be shipped to them, the date, and provide them a link they can click to cancel the shipment. The email that is sent to the customer is configured under the Email Templates section of the Configuration Menu.

Click on the "save" button when finished with the configuration or use the delay step and item steps to build out more elaborate schedules.

Clicking the auto order tab will cause any changes made to be saved while leaving you in the auto order tab to immediately review the Sample Order Schedule.

After you configure the details of your Item Step, it will list all of the repeat counts providing an excellent preview of how the Auto (recurring) Order will work. In the following example we have configured a single Item Step for the Kit Item ID "Earth_Tone_Teapot" to auto ship Item "Earth_Tone_Teapot" on a Monthly schedule to indefinitely. If your auto order deals with only one item and you have no need for any delays on the recurring order(s), then this example will probably be all you need.

UltraCart has considerable flexibility for customizing your recurring order schedule. You can add additional items to your schedule by using the "add Item before or after" buttons. Additionally, you can add delays to alter the start of a scheduled item via the "add delay before or after" buttons.

Pause (delay) Step

This feature allows you to set a delay before or after an Item step. An example of usage might be where a merchant wants to send out a one week trial of a supplement (original order) and then follow up with a monthly recurring order. To facilitate this you would add a delay of 7 days before the item.

Click the "add delay before" button. A new step will appear above your original step and the steps will be renumbered 1 then 2. Your new step will have only one field to complete. Indicate how many days you want to delay the beginning of the Automatic (recurring) Order. Click on the "Save" button when finished.

The following screen shot demonstrates the "add delay before" feature using the same scenario as before. Notice that the Sample Order Schedule now shows step 2 (in red box) beginning 7 days (delay) after the original order. Step 3 begins 30 days after step 2 - the monthly recurring schedule.

Add Item Step

This is about the same as when you began when you added the initial Item Step. The difference here is that you are adding an additional item to the existing schedule.

In the following scenario the customer has subscribed by purchasing a one week trial of our Earth_Tone_Teapot product (original order) with a monthly recurring order for 5 months. 15 days after the last order (we inserted another delay step) they automatically begin a indefinite monthly recurring order of the Earth_Tone_Teapot product. In the sample below, step #7 depicts the beginning of the 2nd item step after a 15 day delay.

Deleting steps

To remove steps from the process simply click the red "delete" button to the right of the row. You will receive a confirmation dialog box to confirm your action.

Grandfathered Pricing

Everyone can remember their grandparents telling us things like "I remember when a gallon of milk cost 45 cents a gallon in 1930" and other phrases like that.  Inflation is a reality in our world and often businesses have to raise their prices to keep up with it.  So what happens if you have several thousand customers on recurring auto orders and want to raise the price on new customers going forward?  Previously you had to configure a seperate set of items within your UltraCart account, but now you can utilize the grandfathered pricing feature to establish a different price schedule.

Given a standard auto order schedule as shown below, click the +grandfathered pricing button as shown below. (accessible from the Advanced View)

Now let's say that anyone who ordered before the end of 2015 will continue to receive the product at $18.95, but all new orders will be the regular price of $20.00.  Notice that we enter the last date to receive the pricing "12/31/2012" into the date field, set the price to 18.95, and then click Save and Reload.  Notice that a second sample schedule will appear show the prices that the customer will receive if they placed their order on or before the grandfathered date.

Updated Rules Regarding Subscriptions from Visa

Updated rules regarding Subscriptions purchases

Update Merchant Obligations 

From 18 April 2020, globally, merchants selling both
physical and digital goods and services who offer free trials
or discounted introductory offers as part of a subscription
(“recurring”) service, must comply with the updated
. Following is a Quick Reference card with a
summary of the requirements:

  • Express Consent At the time of enrollment, merchants must require the cardholder to expressly consent to entering an ongoing subscription service for recurring payments.
  • At the time of enrollment, merchants must provide a copy
    (i.e., email or SMS/text, or other delivery method, if agreed
    with the cardholder) of the terms and conditions of the
    subscription service to the cardholder, even if no amount
    was due at the time. This must include:
    • Confirmation that the cardholder has agreed to a
    subscription, unless the cardholder cancels.
    • The start date of the subscription.
    • Details of the goods/services.
    • Ongoing transaction amount and billing frequency/date.
    • Link or other simple mechanism to enable the cardholder
    to easily cancel any subsequent transactions online.
    Merchants must also send a reminder notification (i.e., email
    or SMS/text) including a link to online cancellation policy at
    least seven (7) days before initiating a recurring transaction if:
    • A trial period, introductory offer, or promotional period is
    about to expire.
    • The nature of the recurring agreement has changed
    (for example, the price or billing period).
  • Explicit Transaction Receipts
    Merchants must disclose the following on
    transaction receipts:
    • Length of any trial period, introductory offer, or
    promotional period, including clear disclosure
    that the cardholder will be charged unless the
    cardholder takes steps to cancel any subsequent
    • Transaction amount and date for the initial
    transaction (even if no amount is due) and for
    subsequent recurring transactions.
    • A link or other simple mechanism to enable
    the cardholder to easily cancel any subsequent
    transactions online
  • Statement Descriptor
    An additional descriptor indicating a trial
    period-related transaction will be required in the
    Merchant Name field of the Clearing Record for the
    first transaction at the end of a trial period.
    This descriptor (for example, “trial,” “trial period,”
    “free trial”) will then appear on cardholder
    statements, online banking, mobile apps, and
    SMS/text alerts, in the same way discretionary,
    additional invoice/order numbers appear for
    electronic commerce transactions.
  • Easier Cancellation
    Merchants must provide an easy way to cancel the
    subscription or payment method online, regardless of
    how the cardholder initially interacted with the merchant
    (for example, a pop-up store in a shopping mall,
    door-to-door sales, or a TV/Radio ad).
  • Expanded Dispute Rights
    The existing dispute condition of “Misrepresentation”
    will be expanded, specifically for transactions where
    merchandise or digital goods have been purchased
    (i) through a trial period or (ii) as a one-off purchase, and
    the cardholder was not clearly advised of further billing
    after the purchase date.
    Merchants can remedy the dispute by proving that they
    have acted appropriately, provided they can show:
    • The cardholder expressly agreed to future transactions
    at the time of the initial interaction; and
    • The merchant electronically notified the cardholder
    (based on the details the cardholder provided) before
    processing new transactions following the trial/
    promotional period.
  • To ensure the new requirements are being met,
    Visa will undertake proactive monitoring.

Link to notice:

Related Documentation

Auto Order Processing Configuration screen (must be logged n to access)

Auto Order Processing

Auto Order Search

Edit Auto Orders

Converting a Regular Order to Auto Order

Allowing the Customer to Cancel an Auto Order

Giving an Auto Order Customer One Free Item

Understanding Emails Related to Auto Order Processing

Auto Order FAQ