PayPal has over 30 million active merchant accounts. As a payment gateway, it has a reputation for being easy to start collecting payments from credit cards, debit cards, and digital wallets.
But how good are PayPal’s reporting capabilities?
SaaS companies need recurring payment reports to monitor customer churn and track growth. PayPal has three different methods for finding recurring payments data:
- Recurring Payments Profile Report
- Recurring Payments Dashboard
- Recurring Billing Report
PayPal offers these features for free, but none of them are the best option for companies looking for in-depth reports on subscription management and recurring billing. In this article, we’ll show you how to generate the reports step by step and explain why you should consider Chargebee for reporting instead.
Table of Contents
- 3 PayPal recurring payments reporting options
- Which PayPal reporting method is better for recurring payments?
- What are the challenges in using PayPal reporting to measure the performance of your subscription business?
- Best alternative to the PayPal recurring payments reports
- Recurring payment reporting best practices
3 PayPal Recurring payments reporting options
PayPal is a popular payment service provider that can accept various payment forms such as automatic payments and subscriptions. It’s a great choice for new and growing SaaS platforms that need a reliable payment processor. Using PayPal helps to build trust in brands that people may not be familiar with yet.
Customers are 54% more likely to complete a purchase when they can checkout with PayPal. Signing up as a merchant is a no-brainer, but growing ecommerce and other business types need detailed reports to monitor that growth. PayPal offers a few ways to access recurring payment reporting for free.
Recurring payments profile report
Access to the recurring payments profile report (RPP) requires some technical skills but can be done by any merchant. The RPP is a report that provides information about outstanding subscribed monthly payments. Reports are customizable based on the information you need, including:
- Profile ID
- Description of the product or service
- Payer name
- Payer email
- Billing cycle
- Currency code
- Amount in cents
- Tax amount in cents
- Shipping and handling amount
- Profile status
- Billing period type
- Billing cycles remaining
- Date last paid
- Amount last paid
- Outstanding balance
- Next bill date
- Number of failed payments
- Date last modified
Reports can be generated for both active and inactive subscriptions, and you can filter the result based on how they pay: weekly, monthly, or yearly. The RPP can be generated as either comma-separated values (CSV) or tab-delimited files (TAB). The maximum number of entries a report can contain is 1 million. If the report has more than that, multiple reports will be generated.
Creating reports using the recurring payments profile is not simple to set up and requires technical knowledge to generate. Reports are accessed through PayPal’s secure file transfer protocol (FTP) server. In order to use the FTP server, you will need to download an SFTP client such as Cyberduck or Filezilla, which will allow you to fetch processing results from PayPal.
Merchants need to create a secure FTP server account through their PayPal settings. It takes up to 48 hours for an account to be created, and you’ll be notified via email when yours is ready to use. Once the account is ready, use your choice of SFTP client and access the PayPal secure FTP server here:
- Open a terminal window using an FTP client like FileZilla
- To access reports on your account, insert the following command line: $ <sftp_account_username>@reports.paypal.com
- Enter your password when prompted
- To access the recurring payments profile report, you need to enter the following filename into the command line: RPP-yyyymmdd.SequenceNumber.Version.Format
Once set up, reports will be generated every 24 hours in either PDF or CSV format. The report will remain available through the FTP for 45 days after its initial delivery. If you need to grant access to other business partners, this can be managed by contacting their PayPal account manager and supplying the following information:
- Third-party’s PayPal login username
- Type of permission: reporting access (read)
Generating the recurring payments profile report is not beginner-friendly, and PayPal has other options for reporting that are easier to access.
Recurring payments dashboard
The recurring payments dashboard is a place where merchants can manage subscription payments and automatic billing payments. If you need to modify or cancel a plan, the dashboard is where you can do that. You’ll also find an overview of your subscriptions with filter options such as:
- Pending Cancellation
- Outstanding payments
- To be billed
To access the recurring payments dashboard, make sure you’re logged into your PayPal business account. Navigate to the Tools at the top of the page, and click through All Tools. Now you can select Recurring Payments from the tools page.
Once you’re on the dashboard, you should be able to see a list of all subscription and automatic payments customers. The overview section will give you the option to quickly view customers by status: active, new, suspended, or canceled.
The dashboard gives a good overview of recurring payments for your customers. You’ll be able to quickly find out who has outstanding fees, which can lead to customers accidentally churning if they haven’t paid. There’s also an option to quickly filter and check which customers have canceled their subscription with you.
Should you need to cancel someone’s plan, you can do that through this dashboard by clicking the checklist for all relevant customers and clicking cancel when it appears at the top of the list. You will also have the option to modify subscriptions in the following ways:
- Editing subscription details
- Suspending the subscription
- Reactivating a subscription
- Viewing the subscription history of each customer
The recurring payments dashboard isn’t for generating and printing reports but can provide a quick and easy overview of your recurring billing.
Recurring billing report
PayPal has a separate report that requires no technical skills or coding experience to generate. In order to access this, you’ll need to sign up for their Recurring Billing Services. Once you have access, you’ll be able to create reports for all recurring billing profiles with transactions within a set time period.
Reports generated this way will only cover approvals and declines. Every transaction that goes through will be listed as an approval. Any transaction that doesn’t go through will be recorded as a decline. The report can only be set to cover a period of three months at most.
Here are the steps involved with generating a recurring billing report on PayPal:
- Select the date range the report should cover; “last week,” “this month,” or a custom time frame up to three months within the last year.
- Next, specify the time zone the report should be generated in (UTC, EST, AEST)
- Choose what type of results you want the report to cover: Approvals only, Approvals and Declines, or Declines only.
- Select the box next to Download Report to create a shareable copy of the report in ASCII text format.
- To generate the report, click on Run Report. If you want PayPal to remember the details so you can quickly create the report again in the future, click on Save as Template.
The Recurring Billing Report is limited in its customization options and only shares a small amount of information about recurring payments. There are more sophisticated methods of generating recurring payment reports available. Keep reading for more details about a better way to manage your subscriptions.
Which PayPal reporting method is better for recurring payments?
To get the most information out of your reports, the Recurring Payments Profile Report is the best option. It’s customizable, so it will include the information that’s necessary to you. Once the report is generated, it will be automatically sent to you every 24 hours with updated information.
The challenge is the complexity of using it. Accessing the secure FTP is not straightforward and requires a separate piece of software to use. However, once you’re familiar with the process, it shouldn’t be too difficult to create new reports in the future. And if you need to give access to someone else who needs to create their own reports, this can be arranged through the PayPal account manager.
Using the recurring payments dashboard is the least technical method for accessing the information about billing. Information shared through the dashboard is a quick snapshot into the state of your recurring payments. Whether you need to see active accounts, outstanding payments, or which customers have canceled, you’ll be able to do that from the dashboard.
You can use the filters on the dashboard to organize the data to your preference, but there is no built-in report generation. If all you need is a quick look to answer a customer query, or check the status of an account, logging into the recurring payments dashboard is the fastest way to do that on PayPal’s website.
You can use a combination of both or all three for your reporting, but this may not be the best option. PayPal’s reporting capabilities are not good enough for SaaS businesses looking to scale and cut waste. Let’s take a look at some of the drawbacks of using PayPal for reporting.
What are the challenges in using PayPal reporting to measure the performance of your subscription business?
PayPal is a good payment processor for collecting subscription fees and automatic payment transactions. It integrates with most online stores and has a reputation for trust and security. However, it does not have the most robust reporting capabilities that SaaS businesses need to plan ahead for growth.
Difficult to use
Reporting on PayPal is cumbersome and difficult to use, particularly for someone who is new to ecommerce and has limited technical knowledge. There is no simple no-code way of generating recurring payment reports, which means it’s a time-consuming process.
Accessing the secure FTP server can’t be done immediately. Even once an account is set up, it’s not as simple as pressing a button. You need to follow specific coding instructions to generate the reports you need.
Limited in what you can see
The data that’s available through PayPal reporting is also quite limited. You can see some basic customer information and subscription details, but you won’t be able to track things like customer lifetime value (CLV), churn rate, or other key metrics that are essential for SaaS businesses.
Without this key information, ecommerce and SaaS stores will need to find a way to access this information. Business owners have to find ways to supplement PayPal’s reporting capabilities. This can be done by integrating it with other software with better reporting data.
The data is spread out
There’s no central place where you can find all of the information you need. Instead, it’s scattered across different reports and tabs, making it time-consuming and difficult to get the full picture.
Lack of updates
The lack of updates is a big problem with the Recurring Payments Profile Report. The feature doesn’t seem to be updated as frequently as other platforms, which means that it can’t keep up with the changing needs of businesses. For example, version 1.3 was released in September 2020, which added the ability to convert reports from PDF to HTML. However, no new updates have been released since.
Another big downside to PayPal reporting is the lack of automation and integration. Reports have to be generated manually, which means it’s a time-consuming process. Fortunately, PayPal can be integrated with a wide range of tools that can automate the report generation process. Using PayPal’s built-in tools can be tedious and lengthy for reporting, and third-party software is the only way to speed it up.
Dashboard is inadequate
The recurring payments dashboard is a quick snapshot of your data, but it’s not enough to make informed decisions. You need to be able to drill down into the details to see what’s really going on. And since there’s no way to off-load the data from the dashboard, it can be hard to share this information with the necessary teams.
It’s hard to track progress over time
With so much data to sift through, it can be challenging to keep track of your progress and spot trends over time. This makes it difficult to know whether you’re on track or if you need to make changes to your subscription business model.
Overall, PayPal’s reporting capabilities are not well-suited for SaaS businesses. If you’re looking for a more robust solution to give you the insights you need to grow your business, you should consider using a subscription management platform like Chargebee.
Best alternative to the PayPal recurring payments reports
For better insights into your recurring payments and subscription business, Chargebee is the tool you should use. It integrates seamlessly with PayPal, pulling all the data about payments so you can create detailed reports with the click of a button. Chargebee is the perfect reporting tool for SaaS and e-commerce businesses with a wide range of tools to help you manage your entire subscription management business.
Unlike the Recurring Payments Profile Report, there is no need for additional software or coding experience to generate reports using Chargebee. No-code report generation means you can create in-depth reports about your subscription business without the need to write a single line of code, making it perfect for teams without a developer.
Chargebee knows what information you need from reports: cash flow, transactions, leakage, MRR, etc. Use the predefined reports feature to generate the information most crucial to your operations or create detailed reports to your own specifications.
Chargebee’s reports give you all the information about your subscription business in one place so you can make informed decisions about your growth. With this report, you can:
- View a complete overview of your subscription business, including new signups, churn rate, lifetime value, and more.
- Generate reports in any format you need them.
- Share reports with teammates and collaborators with ease.
- Track progress over time to see if you are on track to reach your goals.
- Spot trends in your data so you can make changes to improve your results.
- Get detailed insights into what is working well and what needs improvement.
Chargebee comes with useful automation features, so you don’t have to spend weeks dealing with invoices, sending email notices, and chasing down payments. Your recurring billing can be put on auto-pilot. Select the date payments should be collected, and Chargebee can do the rest. Everything from taxation to probation can be handled without the need for human intervention.
Creating reports is just one feature that SaaS businesses can take advantage of with Chargebee. Chargebee offers a wide range of features to automate your entire subscription management business. With Chargebee, you can:
- Automate your entire recurring billing process
- Eliminate manual invoice generation
- Automatically send invoices and receipts
- Chase down late payments with automatic dunning
- Collect one-time or recurring payments
- Set up payment plans
Chargebee makes it easy to get started with subscription billing. No matter your level of experience, Chargebee is built for everyone. Small businesses will find all the tools they need for subscription management, and developers will be able to access a friendly API.
Recurring payment reporting best practices
When you start thinking about reporting for your business, you should focus on the following areas to get the most out of your recurring payment reports:
1. Customer Segmentation: Group customers by product, plan, payment type, or other criteria to see which segments are performing well and which need improvement.
2. Churn Analysis: Use churn analysis to identify which customer segments are at risk of cancelation so you can take action to prevent it.
3. Revenue Recognition: Ensure you correctly recognize revenue for your subscription business. This is especially important if you offer free trials or discounted rates.
4. Cash Flow: Keep tabs on your cash flow to ensure you have enough money coming in to cover your expenses.
5. Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR): Track your MRR to see if you are growing, shrinking, or staying the same.
6. Customer Lifetime Value (LTV): Determine your LTV to see how much revenue you can expect from each customer over the course of their lifetime.
7. Annual Run Rate (ARR): Calculate your ARR to project your future growth.
8. Cost of Customer Acquisition (CAC): Know your CAC so you can determine if you are spending too much or too little to acquire new customers.
9. Free Trial Conversions: See how many free trial users convert to paying customers. This will help you determine if your free trial is adequate.
10. Upgrade/Downgrade Rates: Keep tabs on upgrade and downgrade rates to see if customers are moving to more expensive or less expensive plans.
11. Trial-to-Paid Conversions: See how many people who start a free trial end up becoming paying customers. This will help you determine the effectiveness of your free trial offer.
12. Churned Customers: Analyze why customers cancel so you can take steps to reduce churn in the future.
13. Revenue by Source: Track where your revenue is coming from so you can invest more in areas performing well and less in the underperforming regions.
14. New vs. Existing Customers: Compare the performance of new customers with existing customers to see which group contributes more to your bottom line.
15. Engagement: Measure customer engagement to see how active users are with your product or service. This will help you determine if customers are using your product as intended and whether they are getting value from it.
While PayPal is a good way to let customers pay using their preferred payment method, it doesn’t have the best reporting capabilities for businesses. If you’re looking for a more robust solution, you should consider using a subscription management platform like Chargebee. This will give you the insights you need to grow your business.
With Chargebee, you can automate your entire recurring billing process, eliminate manual invoice generation, and automatically send invoices and receipts. You can also chase down late payments with automatic dunning, set up payment plans, and collect one-time or recurring payments.