Last updated - March 23, 2018
Subscriptions have become an innovative business model over the years, particularly with rising popularity of eCommerce. The reason for such a wide acceptance of this model is because it creates a win-win situation – for both store owners and customers. The regularity of a recurring income brings peace of mind to store owners. At the same time, the freedom from venturing out shopping for stuff they periodically need brings cheers to customers. A sense of regularity to the chaotic modern life has made subscriptions such a huge hit. If you have a WooCommerce store, you know there are plenty of options for setting up hassle-free subscriptions. This article looks into some of the advantages of offering subscription products through your WooCommerce store. You can also find the best WooCommerce Subscription plugins here.
This WooCommerce extension creates subscriptions in your store. It enables you to create simple and variable subscription products, which is a welcome feature compared to other similar plugins. You can create subscriptions out of different WooCommerce products – physical, downloadable or virtual. You also get to choose the billing periods and intervals for your WooCommerce Subscriptions.
The plugin is really easy to use. Once you install and activate it, you can create subscription products just like any other WooCommerce products. The plugin will add two more fields in the product type drop-down – ‘simple subscription’ and ‘variable subscription’, which you can choose as per your requirement. Then, you can go to the Product Data settings and add the terms of subscriptions and renewal cycles.
Another welcome feature of this plugin is that it allows ‘mixed checkout’. This means your customers will be able to checkout with subscription products along with other normal products. On the plugin settings tab, you can configure the text displayed on the front-end too.
Here is a quick glance at the features of this free WooCommerce Subscription plugin:
- Download for free from the WordPress Plugin repository.
- Create different billing periods such as ‘day’, ‘week’, ‘month’ or ‘year’. A choice to schedule an interval from the 1st to 6th of these billing periods is also available.
- Display subscription products along with individual products on your Shop page.
- Renew subscriptions automatically or manually.
- Manage the terms of subscriptions on the WooCommerce admin page (WooCommerce > HF Subscriptions).
- Enable customers to purchase a subscription and a normal product in the same order using the ‘mixed checkout’ option.
- Allow customers to cancel their subscriptions from the ‘My Account’ page. They can also change the shipping address if required.
You can download WooCommerce Subscriptions from WordPress Plugin repository for free.
As we have seen, subscriptions provide recurring revenue. This WooCommerce Subscription extension helps you create and manage subscription products in your store. You can assure yourself a steady, regular income and simultaneously create better customer experiences. With this plugin, you can create multiple subscriptions for products (physical and downloadable) and services. You can create weekly, monthly or annual subscriptions based on the specific requirements of your customers. You will be able to set up subscription expiry dates, offer trial periods and charge sign-up fees.
With the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension, you can set different billing periods for the renewal of subscriptions. The available choices for billing period are daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. For each of these periods, you can set an interval of one to six. That is you can set a fortnightly subscription by setting up payment on every 2nd week. Or a quarterly one with payment on every 3rd month.
Payment gateways play a crucial role in subscriptions
The payment gateways that you choose has a lot of significance in the smooth functioning of this plugin. Take a look at this documentation to understand how different payment gateways affect the capabilities of the subscription extension of WooCommerce. The plugin allows automatic payments with over 25 payment gateways, while manual payment is allowed for all payment gateways.
Sometimes, if your subscriber’s credit card is off limits, the payment can fail. This plugin facilitates the automatic re-billing of such failed transactions. The plugin also has elaborate settings to help customers switch between different subscription plans. Whenever a payment is processed, the subscriber and store owner will get notifications. This way there is no scope for any confusion about payments. To get an overview of all your subscriptions, you can rely on the detailed reports of this plugin.
WooCommerce subscriptions extension is really feature-rich
For any subscription product that you add, you can set up an initial signup fee or a free trial period. Account management is available in store owner and subscriber levels, so there is some sort of sharing of control. Things such as adding a product or fees to the subscription, changing the trial period, modifying payment amounts, etc are in the control of store owners. At the same time, customers can cancel a subscription, or switch between two different plans.
You can create a subscription product with any product type available in WooCommerce. Similar to variable products, you can create variable subscriptions using this extension. This will give your customers an option to choose the type of the subscription that is suitable for them. Customers will also have an option to choose multiple subscription products. The plugin also provides coupons with discount options on the product price, recurring payment, or signup fees.
When you have multiple subscriptions available in your store, you may want to set a specific date to initiate the shipping process. But your customers may not sign up on these exact dates. So you have to account for the difference. The plugin allows two options to deal with this situation – “renewal synchronization” and “prorating”. Renewal synchronization allows you to choose a specific date to renew subscriptions. Once you set a specific date for subscription renewal, you can prorate the first payment of a subscriber. With prorating, you can calculate the number of days the customer is subscribed to in the current billing period. The plugin calculates the daily amount of subscription and multiplies it by the number of days in that billing period and charges the customer accordingly.
Installation and Configuration
Thought its features seem quite complex, the extension is pretty straightforward to set up and use. You need to purchase it first. Once you install, it will add a settings tab under WooCommerce > Settings. You can configure the general settings of the plugin here. Creating a subscription product is quite easy as the process is very similar to how you add products in WooCommerce. The extension will add two more fields in product drop-down as ‘Simple subscription’ and ‘variable subscription’. The major difference can be seen only in the general settings tab where you set the pricing, billing period and other terms of the subscription such as a sign-up fee or free trial.
There are three options to purchase this plugin on the WooCommerce site: $199 for Single Site, $249 for 5-site and $349 for 25-site. The purchase comes with one year of updates and dedicated support.
With YITH WooCommerce Subscription extension, you can create any type of subscription product from magazines to vegetables to educational courses. The advantage is that this one is available for free download in the WordPress plugin directory. Of course, the advanced features may be lacking, but the free version will help you feature subscriptions on your store. With this plugin enabled, you will have a regular income and a firm grip on your business growth.
You can create unlimited subscriptions for physical products, downloadable products, and services with the help of this plugin. You can set a renewal period of ‘daily’ or ‘monthly’ for the subscriptions. The maximum time limit that you can set with this plugin is two years. Your customers will have the option to cancel the subscriptions from their PayPal account.
The plugin is quite easy to install and set up. Once you install and activate the plugin, you can access it from the WordPress admin panel (YITH Plugins > Subscription). Under the Settings tab, you will find the checkbox to enable the plugin.
Under the Subscriptions tab, you will find a list of all the subscriptions.
Creating a new subscription product is also simple. The new product page editor will have an additional checkbox for ‘Subscription product’. Once you tick this, two more options are displayed to specify the billing period.
In terms of features and functionality, this plugin is quite limited. You will be able to get advanced features if you opt for the premium version.
Compared to the free version, this one has better features. One glaring difference is that you can create subscriptions to variable products too with this plugin. This means your customers will have more options to choose from. The plugin also has an option to pause a subscription, so that you can make it active again at a suitable time.
Two important features this plugin have are the options to add a sign-up fee and a free trial for your subscriptions. With this plugin, you can also allow your customers to complete missed payments without hassles. You can provide customers with more options like switching to a different subscription plan or cancel the subscription from the ‘My Account’ page. Also, you can send notifications to customers whenever the terms of a subscription are changed.
Other features of the plugin includes automatic suspension of subscription (in case of repeated payment failures), YITH Memberships support, WPML support, etc.
The plugin is available for purchase in three different options – single site for $102, up to 6 sites for $149, and up to 30 sites for $249. The license includes one year of support and updates.
Advantages of using WooCommerce subscription plugins
When you are in the eCommerce business, you will know some of the obvious advantages of using the subscription model. Let’s look into some of these in more detail.
The cushion of a recurring income
An eCommerce business poses a lot of challenges in terms of the unpredictability of income. Some days you will see your sales graphs hitting the roof, and on other days it might be crawling on the floor. You really can’t plan ahead the progress and diversification of your business. A sort of helplessness begins to creep in, gradually demotivating you. You can change such a scenario quite drastically by introducing the subscription model to your business.
You can have a combination of normal products and subscription products on your store. The assurance of revenue by the few subscription products will definitely give you the cushion that you are looking for to expand your business. When you already know there is a certain income coming in at regular intervals, you can peacefully plan for new products or marketing initiatives. It will give you a perspective regarding the strengths of your store and will provide you with confidence to embrace new challenges.
Endless possibilities to create a subscription plan
When you consider introducing a subscription model, the possibilities are practically endless. You can add a little bit of imagination to your knowledge of your products and customers, and a great subscription model is in your hands! No need to limit it to the periodic delivery of a physical product or the yearly license update of a software product. You can create a subscription that you know your customer would love, with any product types and delivery plans.
For example, if you sell bath products, you can create a kit with a few products that your customers use together, and create multiple subscription plans. This way you will be able to accommodate customers of varying requirements and purchase power. Your customers would love the fact that they don’t have to set reminders to refill their bathroom cabinets. And if you include a surprise sampler packet of a new product once in a while, your customers will be doubly happy. Without much effort, some marketing too has been done for your new product.
Great options to market your products
With the subscription model, you really enhance the power to cross-sell and up-sell. Your subscribers are already bound to you by a sense of trust because you are consistently providing them with something they need. This effectively increases your power of persuasion too. And it decreases your investment in marketing and sales initiatives.
You can do this in two ways – a cross sell or an up sell. A cross sell is when you suggest a related product along with product they already bought. For example, a conditioner along with a shampoo. An up sell would be to persuade the customer to buy more quantity or volume of the same product. For example, to buy a larger-sized packet of the same shampoo.
Flexibility to create subscription plans
Your customers’ requirement of products can vary to a multitude of levels. In the subscription model, you can create multiple levels suiting to different purchasing styles and budget estimates. The advantage of WooCommerce subscription model here is that you can leave the task of picking up a subscription plan to customers. As a result, customers would feel to be in control and they can plan a subscription according to their financial status and necessities.
For example, a family of five may need the kit of bathing products every week. Similarly, a family of three would prefer to have those delivered to them every two weeks. You can make subscription plans to take into account both these requirements. This way you can cater to multiple strata of customers with a suitable plan. You will see the long term prospects of your store increasing and your customer base would become bigger and happier.
Exceptional customer experience
Subscription model encourages mutual trust and long term commitment. The emotional attachment that your customers feel towards your business will translate into loyalty and good will. Continuous good experiences with your store would make your customers increasingly interested on your store. Chances of loyal customers recommending your store to friends and family are also more. Your loyal customers would become reliable assets for your company in due time.
When you have subscribers on your store, offering rewards is more fulfilling and financially viable. You can offer subscriber-only discount offers, or special treats more readily. The effect of such offers would be more personal with your regular customers than occassional visitors on your site. Overall, the customer delight that the WooCommerce subscription model offers is unmatched.
Subscriptions are a great way to improve the customer experience and loyalty on your WooCommerce store. They are truly a win-win deal for both store owners and customers. Your customers will get a personalized service continually, and you can ensure a regular income on your site. As a result, you will have more time and money to focus on business development strategies or user experience. Subscriptions help you with marketing, as it improves the scope for cross-sells and up-sells. The plugins mentioned in this article are some of the great options to set up subscriptions on your WooCommerce store. Let us know if you have any insights to add by commenting on the below section.