How to Add WooCommerce Subscription Products (with Video)

Last updated - July 8, 2021

Subscription products are a type of WooCommerce products that you can offer to customers for recurring payments. Such products are easy to track and count on and generate reliable residual revenue from your store. 

You can use subscription products to create anything from monthly gift boxes and weekly consultation service subscriptions to yearly productivity software billing packages.

In this article, you’ll learn how to add and manage subscription products to your WooCommerce store. Though there are many subscription plugins that will do the job, we’ll be using the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin.

WooCommerce subscriptions
The WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin lets us add subscription products to our WooCommerce store.

Creating a Simple Subscription Product

To add a simple subscription product, head to Products > Add New. Start by providing the basic product details like name, description, category, and product image. 

In the “Product data” option, you’ll find 2 new options to choose from thanks to the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin: Simple subscription, and Variable subscription. Select the “Simple subscription” option from the dropdown.

Simple subscription product
Adding a simple subscription product.

If your subscription product is similar to an online course or a software package, that is, it is only available virtually and/or can be downloaded, enable the “Virtual” and “Downloadable” options next to the “Product data” option, whichever is applicable.

While the remaining tabs will remain mostly the same, the simple subscription product type will open up some new fields in the General tab:

  • Subscription price: Set the recurring price using a fixed value and the billing frequency. You can charge in terms of days, weeks, months, or years; in increments of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6.
  • Expire after: You can choose to expire the subscription automatically after a fixed number of time periods.
  • Sign-up fee: If you want customers to be charged at the outset of the subscription, you can determine a sign-up fee.
  • Free trial:  Offering a free trial can be a good way to get customers to start using your product. The free trial can be in terms of days, weeks, months, or years.
  • Sale price: You can set a sale price and schedule a sale for the simple subscription product.

Apart from these options, you can limit the number of subscriptions a customer can purchase in the Advanced tab. After setting all the above options, your simple subscription product is ready. Click the “Publish” button in the right sidebar to make it live on your shop page.

Simple subscription product on shop page
A simple subscription product on the shop page.

Creating a Variable Subscription Product

A variable subscription product allows you to provide more options for your shoppers, essentially letting them choose between various subscription plans. Its setup is similar to the simple subscription product, however you’ll need to select the “Variable subscription” option in the product data dropdown.

Since prices are determined at the variation level, the General tab containing the price options will disappear and a Variations tab will be added. However, we cannot create variations without adding attributes first. Head to the Attributes tab.

Here, select “Custom product attribute” from the dropdown and click “Add”. Below, give your attribute a name and enter the values in the adjacent field. For example, a coffee subscription offering both ground and beans coffee could have an attribute name “Type” with the values being “Ground | Beans.” Make sure to separate the values using a vertical bar.

WooCommerce subscription products attributes
Creating attributes for the product variations.

Then, enable the “Used for variations” option below. Finally, click “Save attributes”. You can create as many attributes as you want by clicking “Add”. When you’re done, head to the Variations tab.

Here, select “Create variations from all attributes” in the dropdown and click “Go”. When you confirm both the prompts that pop up, all the possible product variations will be automatically created using the attributes created.

WooCommerce subscription product attribute values
All the variable subscription product’s variations are automatically created using the attributes.

Expand a variation to start editing it. For each of the variation, you can provide details like:

  • Product image
  • SKU
  • Downloadable and/or virtual
  • Manage stock?
  • Sign-up fee
  • Free trial
  • Subscription price
  • Expire after
  • Sale price
  • Stock status
  • Shipping class, weight, and dimensions
variable subscription product
Setting up a variable subscription product.

You need to similarly expand and provide details for each of the variations created on the page. When you’re done, you can publish the variable subscription product.

variable subscription product shop page
A variable subscription product on the shop page.

Managing the Subscription Products

The WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin gives you complete control over how you sell and manage these subscription products. If you want to monitor all your store’s subscriptions in a single place, head to WooCommerce > Subscriptions.

Manage subscriptions
The WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin gives you complete control over your subscriptions.

Here, you can also take individual and bulk actions on subscriptions like putting them on hold or cancelling them.

If you want to customize your subscription products even more, head to WooCommerce > Settings > Subscriptions. Some major options you’ll find here are:

  • Renewals: Customize how subscriptions on your website are renewed. You can choose to accept manual renewals, lets customers toggle auto renewals, and even allow them to pay renewals early.
  • Allow switching: Choose to allow customers to upgrade or downgrade their subscription plans. Customers can switch between subscription variations and grouped subscriptions.
  • Synchronize renewals: Synchronize all the subscription renewals to a specific day of the week, month, or year. For example, this might be useful to stores that sell monthly gift boxes on the first of each month
  • Mixed Checkout: Allow multiple subscriptions and products to be purchased simultaneously.
  • $0 Initial Checkout: Allow a subscription product with a $0 initial payment to be purchased without providing a payment method. The customer will be required to provide a payment method at the end of the initial period to keep the subscription active.

You now know how to set up the subscriptions on your website the right way, add simple and variable subscription products, and manage all subscriptions from a single page. If you have any more questions about WooCommerce subscription products, feel free to reach out to us in the comments below.

If you prefer a video version, please check out the video below:

Further reading


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