I'm trying to describe the action of taking one-time customers and have them pay for a subscription product.

So for instance if I own a coffee shop and I get money from customers coming at all times, but I also get money from customers paying a monthly subscription for coffee.

How would I best describe the way/method of the second option, basically steady cash-flow instead of having to depend on new customers.

Hope it's not too vague, certainly something in business terminology

  • 1
    ... hello, I think you may want to implement a technique to “fidelize” your customers! Sep 3, 2012 at 21:27
  • I'd have thought in business terminology those "prepaid, subscription customers" are actually creditors from OP's side of the deal. They've already paid upfront for coffee they might not drink for weeks, but the cafe still owes them that coffee - that's a "debt", according to my understanding of accounting principles. Sep 3, 2012 at 23:17
  • Close NARQ -- overly broad. -1 Please show results of your own research.
    – MetaEd
    Sep 4, 2012 at 2:53
  • You already mention subscription which seems a good word. Are you asking about what a monthly payment might be called ("subscription"), or the action of signing up clients to a monthly payment ("subscribe")?
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 4, 2012 at 7:13

2 Answers 2


We refer to your subscription option as an 'annuity arrangement', and clients with whom we agree that arrangement as 'annuity clients', and we publicize those words. Occasionally, we say we will 'annuitize' a client to describe entering into the agreement, but the need for this expression is rare, and it is internal jargon, not something we would advertise or share with clients.

  • +1 While annuity comes from the latin term for year (and in this case meaning literally "yearly"), it is regularly used in the US to mean a subscription that pays in an ongoing way, regardless of the duration or renewal period.
    – bib
    Sep 4, 2012 at 3:34
  • In the UK, annuity refers to pensions. I've never heard it used to mean anything else, and certainly not for payments made by clients to companies. And in any case, OP asks about a monthly subscription.
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 4, 2012 at 7:08

A similar situation occurs in the world of football. There are 'season ticket holders' and fans who turn up for a match on the day.

One description of people who come in on a whim is 'passing trade'.

A measure of how many customers a shop attracts is 'foot fall'.

With mobile phones you have PAYGO -- Pay As You Go or monthly contract customers.

Similarly a large project will have a standing order with their suppliers to supply 'as and when required'.

I saw a term recently 'Zero Contract'.

Someone mentioned 'subscribers' that is the terminology of magazines and newspapers.

You could think of 'impulse buy' or impulse buyers. A similar situation arises with 'fair weather fans'.

Some goods are perishable - they have to be sold on the day, whereas others are consumer durables.

In the UK there are all sorts of sales and special offers, including the use of vouchers; they go under the name of promotions. There are also 'Trade Discounts' and special prices for multi-journey tickets.

A rather disrespectful word for describing customers is punters.

  • 1
    Could you please organize this a bit? It's fairly hard to understand, since you throw out a lot of terms and don't really come to the conclusion of which is best.
    – simchona
    Sep 4, 2012 at 0:25
  • @simchona Overly broad question is partly to blame.
    – MetaEd
    Sep 4, 2012 at 2:55

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