Recurring Payments vs. Recurring Invoices: What’s the Difference?

As a small business owner, you’re constantly looking for ways to save time and increase efficiency. One great way to do this is by setting up automation for your payments. Not only does this type of automation save valuable time, but it also ensures that important payments don’t get lost. The difference between recurring payments and recurring invoices, however, can be a little confusing.

Although they might sound the same, recurring payments and recurring invoices are very different – and should be used in different situations depending on the needs of your business.
Here’s a quick and easy breakdown:

  • Recurring payments automatically charge the customer’s card on a pre-set schedule.
  • Recurring invoices automatically send an invoice to your customer on a pre-set schedule. No payment is collected until the customer takes action.

Some businesses are a perfect fit for recurring payments, others for recurring invoices, and some for both. Take a look at the following examples and see if your business fits the bill.

Recurring Payments

Recurring payments are a good fit for any company that requires a fixed payment on a regular cadence.

  • A company that offers a product for a monthly subscription and requires upfront payment. Great examples of this can be seen in the popular eCommerce subscription businesses like the meal prep kits such as Hellofresh or streaming services like Netflix. Recurring payments help subscription model companies immensely with subscription management.
  • A marketing agency that supplies a fixed set of projects. For example, if you supply a client with 20 social media posts and a newsletter every month, it’s safe and efficient to set up billing on an automatic schedule.
  • As-a-service business models in general are a perfect fit for recurring payments. SAAS companies like Salesforce are an obvious example. But there are many B2C versions of service providers. For instance gym memberships could be considered an as-a-service. 

Recurring Invoices

Recurring invoices are a good fit for companies who’s recurring charges may change slightly from month to month or generally use a usage-based billing method.

  • A consulting or law office that offers fixed services with billable hours. A client could need different hours each month.
  • A company that is a provider of a variety of monthly services at a fixed price – like monthly landscape maintenance or IT support.

Depending on your situation, recurring payments and recurring invoices could be a good fit for your business. Setting up recurring payments ensures that your customer won’t have to remember to make a payment and can avoid late fees while sending recurring invoices helps you to minimize any duplicate work. Ultimately, both help you save time, allowing you to shift your attention to other areas of your business that require your attention.

If you haven’t already incorporated these types of payments to your flow, consider the following benefits and see if this is the right fit for you.

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Benefits of Recurring Billing Systems

Recurring billing systems – both invoicing and payments – provide benefits to both your business and your customer. These benefits can even improve customer retention. If your business hasn’t yet implementing a billing process like this, take a look at these.

Speed Up Payments

The less time you spend chasing down payment, the faster you can get paid. Relying on automation to send out payment reminders, or simply initiate the transaction, means money in your pocket faster. Most consumers pay their regular bills (like utility bills) on a monthly billing cycle. When you become a part of that cadence – particularly when you’re taking automatic payments – you reduce the risk of the customer forgetting to pay you.

Improve Cash Flow

Cash flow is important to any business. Having a constant flow of funds to support other areas of the business is vital to success. By setting up recurring payments or invoices, you can ensure that payment is deposited in your account on a monthly basis, reducing the risk of being stuck without the cash you need.

Save Time and Money

Automation is a wonderful thing for business owners, especially when it comes to something as important as payments. By using the Stax Virtual Terminal’s functionality to send out your invoices or initiate your transactions, you can spend more time on what matters most to you. Plus, once the payment schedules are set on a recurring basis, you no longer risk forgetting to send an invoice or incorrectly keying in a customer’s payment information.

Enhance Customer Relationships

Recurring billing models can truly enhance your customer relationships and reduce customer churn by completely streamlining the payment process. If you’re automatically charging their payment method or bank account, in particular, you completely remove the friction of paying. Customers can focus simply on the services they get from you, rather than thinking about the price tag.

How to Implement a Recurring Billing Model

You’ll set up the various types of recurring billing within your billing solution. On the front end, your payment gateway should then make it easy for customers to enter their card information and other payment details.

Setting up recurring payments and recurring invoices with Stax is simple. Simply set the schedule for the automation when you create the invoice – it’s that easy. Learn more about how the Stax Virtual Terminal can help your business grow.