Defining your Product Catalog

In the platform, services are defined as products that belong to a product type.

  • The product type is the most fundamental entity for defining a service in the platform. It establishes the properties and attributes of the service which affect the provisioning, billing, ordering, marketing aspects of services on the platform.
  • Products are used by product managers to define the editions of a service by setting specific values for each attribute. In this way, the products are “instances” of the product types, meaning that you can have many products of the same type, while each product has only one product type. Each product can have also add-ons for activating extra features for this product.

Understanding Product Types & Products

The definition occurs when configuring the various properties and characteristics of the service at the product type level. When defined, the product type can then be used as a template to spawn as many editions of the service as required. Product managers use product types for defining the editions (‘products’ in the platform) of service by setting specific values for each characteristic at each edition. In other words, these editions are, in fact, different “instances” of product types, meaning that you can have many products of the same type, while each product belongs to only one product type.

For example, the product type “Microsoft Office 365” spawns different products such as Microsoft 365 Business Basic, Microsoft 365 Business Standard, Microsoft 365 Business Premium, etc.

In addition, the product type entity hosts and facilitates various settings that affect the provisioning, billing, ordering, and marketing aspects of the services within the platform. For auto-provisioned services (such as MS Office 365, Acronis, etc.), the product types are created and managed by the service manager because the product type is the cornerstone of the provisioning mechanism. When a customer purchases an auto-provisioned product, the platform sends the values of the product type characteristics of that product to the external vendor’s system so that it can understand what to provision.

In other words, when a product is correctly defined, a customer will be able to see it listed on Storefront and order it. At the same time, the platform will create a subscription with the respective billing and also, send the required provisioning instructions to the vendor.

The process for a product manager for creating a product type and its products is described in detail in our knowledge base pages Understanding Product Types and Creating a Recurring Product.

Your job is to automate this process by having your service manager automatically create your product catalog on our platform via the implementation of the endpoint Get Services Definition Endpoint (Recurring Services) Depending on the nature of the service, the endpoint may automatically create only the ‘product type’ or generate the actual services that will be sold on Marketplace. This depends largely on the business logic that needs to be reflected in the process.

  • For example, if the product is not really a specific service that can be sent to the vendor but rather a combination of parameters later defined by the product manager, defining just the product type suffices. In this case, the endpoint will create the product type, but the product manager can create a product with different characteristics.
  • On the contrary, in such cases where the vendor offers a clear selection of SKUs, the Get Service Definition process may automatically create the products and their add-ons, with each product corresponding to a specific Stock Keeping Unit (SKU).

Product Add-ons

An add-on in the platform reflects an additional feature or option that can be enabled on top of the main product or service of a subscription, enhancing or complementing the main service. Imagine the main service that provides a mailbox, and the add-on being an option for archiving. The add-on is billed in a separate line and can also support quantity change actions and cancellations.

From a platform perspective, an add-on product cannot be purchased on its own. It must be added to an existing subscription. The addons inherit some attributes from the subscription.

Special care must be given during the addon definition. In the platform, an addon can be created to accommodate a scenario such as explained above, or as a vehicle to accommodate some other business requirement. For example: In case an MSP wants to provide a standing support option for the main subscription, they can create an addon reflecting the support contract. The customer can activate this whenever they want during the lifetime of the subscription and the cost will be shown on a separate line-item on the invoice.

Billing Settings for your Products

The settings you will define for your products will dictate how your products subscriptions will be billed. The major decisions you need to make are the following:

  • Which are the available billing cycles (e.g. monthly, annually etc.) for each of your products
  • Whether your services are billed upfront or in arrears
  • Define if you offer price protection for your subscriptions and for which period.
  • Define if you offer free of charge the first billing cycle (i.e. free period)

All these options are defined per product and explained in detail on the page Product Pricing & Billing Setting

Products Pricing

Usually, subscription-based products have a fixed cost per billing cycle. It is a good practise your service manager to handle also the pricing by setting for each product the cost and sell price per currency you support. This way you will save time from your partners to manually update the prices in our platform each time you update your price lists.

Fetching Prices from an External System (External Pricing)

External pricing refers to retrieving prices from an external application and applying those prices to products or subscriptions within a platform. The retrieved prices are used as the unit price, and additional discounts, such as price lists, volume discounts, promotions, and user-defined discounts, are then applied on top of the retrieved prices.

Prices are retrieved using the External Pricing endpoint, which receives the purchase details (product, unit, quantity, customer) and returns the price calculated by any custom algorithm the service wants to apply.

If you’re keen on incorporating external pricing into your service manager implementation, explore the guide at External Pricing. It provides valuable insights and practical steps for seamless implementation.

Product Trials

If you offer trials for your services, you can also automate this process by defining per product its trial options. For each of your products you can define the trial period and how many licenses. Details on how trials work in our platform can be found to the page Enable Product Trials.

Upgrade Options between your Plan

The upgrade options you might have between your plans can be supported from the service manager you will implement. Our platform supports:

  • Define upgrade options between products (i.e. between different editions of your service)
  • Define mutually exclusive products for not allowing a customer to own both products.