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How to Create and Manage WooCommerce Subscriptions?

All you need to know about WooCommerce Subscriptions. How to set-up subscription products, best plugin, tools to manage subscriptions and grow sales.

Last updated on August 27, 2021

They say money is in the list. Correct. But the subscription business is a goldmine.

Why? You’ll know after reading this piece.

How to set-up WooCommerce subscription products, best WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin, how to manage your subscription business easily…all covered here.

So without the hullabaloo, let’s begin.

Why is everyone going for a recurring business (subscription) model?

We all know there are many crucial components responsible for a business’s success or failure. But the one that should remain on focus at all times is the customer.

The changing behavior trends of customers are powerful enough to drive changes in business models. And businesses that adapt early to the changes stand to survive.

One such successful trend today is the recurring subscription business model. And this applies to WooCommerce as well.

This business model has been pioneered by the newspapers and magazines, and now it’s the preferred business model adopted by businesses and websites. That’s why Amazon, Netflix, Dollar Shave Club, any big brand you name and they offer some product or service as a subscription.

In simple terms, a subscription is an agreement where you will receive products or services from a company by paying regularly. For example, you sign-up for Amazon Prime Membership.

Amazon Prime membership plan signup

Why are subscriptions a win-win?

subscription is a  win-win

The reasons are obvious.

For your customers:

  • Subscriptions are easy on the pocket
  • The automatic payment process gets rid of all the buying hassles
  • Flexibility – upgrade or downgrade plans, switch, cancel or re-subscribe easily
  • Customers receive the product on a regular basis

For business owners:

  • The model offers guaranteed revenue
  • More the customers, more the money…gets double, triple in the long run (provided churn is low).
  • Increase in customer lifetime value
  • Businesses can predict revenue, volume and demand in advance

But there are a few CONS

  • Customers are vary of contracts initially and are reluctant to trust the product initially (Though Free trial takes care of this).
  • Challenging to get people to commit to long-term regular payment
  • Maintaining the product value and service quality up to the subscriber satisfaction.
  • Retaining customers or keeping the churn rate low is difficult.

However, despite a few drawbacks, the subscription model is worth the risk and money-making. No doubts, businesses are blooming who opt for recurring revenue model.

Let’s see how subscriptions can change the game for WooCommerce businesses.

WooCommerce & Subscriptions – The bread and butter

Now WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce platform on the web for small to large-sized online merchants using WordPress.

And with WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin, it’s even more powerful. We are talking about the official WooCommerce Subscriptions extension.

The extension allows you to set up various subscription products and services with recurring pricing models.

If you are into WooCommerce and not doing subscriptions, you are leaving money on the table. I’m sorry to say that but it’s the truth.

WooCommerce store owners have multiplied their revenue exponentially with the use of this subscription plugin.

Top WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin features

  • Create subscriptions for physical and virtual products or services.
  • Integrates with over 25 payment gateways.
  • Includes options to set sign-up fees, free trial periods, expiration dates.
  • Provides manual and automated renewal options and email notifications
  • Supports variable pricing, so you can have multiple options for a product with different prices for each option.
  • Gives customers the ability to upgrade or downgrade their plans as needed
  • Summarizes subscription information and customer data in detailed reports
  • Performs rebilling for failed payments

Pricing: $199

Get WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin

How to set-up WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin and subscription products?

Now that you’re acquainted with the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin, let’s talk about setting it up on your store. And further things to manage it.

This is very simple. You need no tech knowledge.

Purchase and install WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin

The installation and activation process for WooCommerce Subscription plugin is the same as WooCommerce.

Navigate to Plugins > Add new under your WP Admin panel and upload the WooCommerce Subscriptions zip file. Activate it and you are good to go.

Configuring WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin Settings

WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin settings

Navigate to WooCommerce > Settings > Subscriptions.

  • Button Text - Appears on the sales page. You can go with the default text or change it as per your requirements.
  • Roles - This option will let you change the default role of a new subscriber from those available in the drop-down. Similarly, you can also set the role of an inactive subscriber.
  • Renewals - Check the Allow manual renewals box to enable subscribers to pay manually for their renewals. Check the Turn off automatic payments box if you want to disable automatic payments for the subscriptions.
  • Switching - Allows users to upgrade or downgrade between subscriptions.
  • Miscellaneous - Includes multiple options like allowing the user to suspend their subscription, mixed checkout, free initial checkout, etc.

Refer this doc for more details

Create a new subscription product

After configuring the settings, you can create simple subscription products or variable subscription products, much like WooCommerce does for normal products.

We’ll see creating a simple subscription product.

Create a subscription product in WooCommerce
  • Go to: WooCommerce > Products > Add Product
  • Under Product Data, select Simple subscription. Customers can sign up for one subscription option at a set price.

Next, set the subscription terms.

Setting the subscription terms
  • Subscription price:
    • The cost of the subscription product
    • Billing interval: How frequently customers are charged (every one, two, three, four, five, or six periods).
    • Billing period: How often customers are charged (daily, weekly, monthly, or annually).
  • Expire after: How long the subscription will stay active before expiring.
  • Sign-up fee: Additional fee required at the time of signup.
  • Free trial: How long customers can use the subscription for free before signing up for paid plans.
  • Add other product details as required.

You can also do the following:

  • Set sale price
  • Apply coupon on sign-up fees
  • Limit subscription

and more...

Finally, publish it.

Congratulations! Your subscription product is now ready.

Refer this WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin in-depth docs

Choosing and configuring payment gateways

WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin supports both automatic and manual types of recurring payments.

But, due to additional security measures associated with storing customer payment information, not all payment gateways support it.

However, major WooCommerce payment gateways like Square, Stripe, PayPal, and Amazon Pay support subscriptions.

List of payment gateways that supports automatic recurring payments

Each has different features you may want to consider when choosing which to offer on your site.

Managing subscriptions

Managing WooCommerce subscriptions

WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin provides an administration page to view and manage subscriptions of your store.

The Manage Subscriptions page can be found at WooCommerce > Subscriptions.

When a subscriber subscribes to your products/services, they will appear here. You can even edit the subscriptions from here when the subscribers request changes.

Over time, you may decide to change your subscriptions in a variety of ways. Raise or lower the price, add new products or services, or adjust a variety of other options for your customers.

Well, you are now in a great position to set-up subscription products on your WooCommerce store.

But the uphill task is managing these subscriptions in bulk. Just imagine how you would manage even twenty subscriptions. What about 100 or 1000?

So let’s now talk about some popular tools to better manage your WooCommerce subscriptions and grow sales.

Five must-have tools to better manage and grow WooCommerce subscriptions business

You need something quick and easy. Subscriptions are not just about creating products. It’s about managing them, your customers, growing sales and a lot more.

Here’s what you need to better manage your subscriptions business:

Smart Manager

Smart Manager plugin helps you manage your WooCommerce store 10x faster. You can bulk edit, make inline edits, export CSV, apply advanced search filters, delete and duplicate…and do a lot more for any post type – products, orders, customers, coupons, etc.

The plugin is compatible with WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin. This means you can manage all your WooCommerce subscriptions from one place.

Extending the trial of your fifty customers in one go, reducing the sign-up fee for selected products quickly, canceling subscriptions in bulk, you can do easily without entering into each subscription with Smart Manager.

Manage subscriptions using Smart Manager

What more you can do using Smart Manager for subscriptions:

  • Changing subscription statuses, re-activating or canceling subscriptions in bulk.
  • Directly edit a subscription without moving to individual subscriptions.
  • Search for a subscription amongst thousands and make an instant edit.
  • View orders, users, refunds at a glance
  • Export subscriptions as CSV – all or based on filters

Get Smart Manager plugin

Putler

Putler is an awesome tool that generates subscription reports, analytics and insights for multiple WooCommerce stores… all at one place.

Putler WooCommerce Subscriptions dashboard

What’s the MRR, is the churn high or low, how many upgrades…you need to have this data in real-time to know where your business is heading towards.

Try Putler for Free

Smart Offers

Smart Offers is a powerful plugin to create sales funnel and targeted offers.

Being compatible with the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin, you can easily upsell, cross-sell offers on subscription products and earn more revenue.

Upsell subscription product using Smart Offers in WooCommerce
Upsell subscription product using Smart Offers

As shown in the above example, if you are selling a lower plan subscription, you can simply use Smart Offers to upsell a higher plan subscription license and pocket in more revenue.

The best part about Smart Offers is the targeting rules, one-click upsells, direct checkout using Buy Now links – you can show offers only to selected users and increase conversions.

Get Smart Offers plugin

Affiliate for WooCommerce

Affiliate for WooCommerce dashboard for Admin

Affiliate for WooCommerce is one of the hot-selling plugins on WooCommerce.com. Being compatible with WooCommerce Subscriptions, your affiliates can easily earn recurring revenue from subscription products.

The plugin provides you the option to allow commission on each renewal. The commission is calculated from the product’s recurring / subscription price.

Get Affiliate for WooCommerce plugin

Smart Coupons

WooCommerce Smart Coupons is the official and all-in-one WooCommerce coupons plugin. Discount vouchers, gift cards, bulk generation, advanced restrictions, etc.

It also works with the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin. So all much-needed coupon features you can apply while selling subscription products like:

  • Restrict coupons on products based on payment methods, location, shipping, etc.
  • Bulk generate coupons to redeem on subscription products
  • Give a recurring flat or percentage discount with subscriptions or use store credits towards renewal payments.

and a lot more…

Get Smart Coupons plugin

How to sell membership as a subscription product?

Now, there’s a big difference between memberships and subscriptions. So I thought let me simplify it.

In simple terms, membership is about Access. You restrict things/products/services to members only. Other people don’t have access to it. For example, club membership of WordPress themes.

As with subscriptions, it is to accept recurring payments, at a fixed interval for products.

However, you can sell memberships as a subscription product.

For example, you have resorts across the USA. You offer three membership plans – Silver, Gold, Platinum based on features. John pays $1000 every year for your Gold membership. So, John has subscribed to your Gold Membership on a yearly basis.

The best part, you can set up memberships on our store using a very popular WooCommerce Memberships plugin, which is compatible with WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin.

Best subscription business applications

Quite a few. We picked the popular ones.

Membership plans

No doubt, the most common and widely used subscription-based business. You may be subscribed to any one of these – Amazon, Netflix, marketing magazines, etc. It can be monthly or annually. Such online tools are known as Subscription as a Service or SaaS.

Plugin licenses

If you are selling digital goods or plugins, offer plugin licenses as a subscription product. Single site, multisite and developer licenses. You can play with price anchoring to sell these products more.

Subscription boxes

Now, this is some innovative concept. You get a box consisting of items on a fixed schedule. Food packets, beer, beauty products, health supplements, etc.

This method allows customers to check out new products and become familiar with new brands. As an entrepreneur, you can build a solid business with a predictable amount of revenue by using this model.

Recurring services

This includes offering physical services like spa, servicing of electric appliances, pet care, etc. This is yet another soon to be dominating space in the physical service industry.

However, in the digital world, it’s quite dominating. Web hosting, maintenance, designing…all these are offered as a package based on features with varied pricing.

Final thoughts

Play your cards right and selling subscriptions on your WooCommerce store will be highly profitable. Guaranteed!

And the best part, you don’t need to go elsewhere hunting things. You have a powerful plugin WooCommerce Subscriptions and all the tips listed in this article to manage your business.

Easy and quick. So get started now. We wish you a thriving business.

Any questions or suggestions? Share your thoughts in the box below.

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