The Ultimate Guide to WooCommerce Subscriptions (2020) + 5 Alternative Plugins

WooCommerce Subscriptions

Welcome to my complete guide to WooCommerce Subscriptions.

Let me start by asking you a fun question - how many online subscriptions do you have?

Allow me to share a few of mine: 

  • A weekly delivery of deliciously overpriced meal bars
  • Some music service I’ve never used and probably never will
  • A foreign language app I gave up on (Really, French? Silent lles?)
  • A subscription to the New York Times
  • An awesome VPN that lets me do foriegn SEO like a boss

I honestly don’t know why I have half of them, and I don’t know why I haven’t canceled the rest. But I’ll bet my money on this:

WooCommerce Subscriptions (or a product similar to it) powers nearly all of them.

Every serious eCom pro I know uses it, including myself. Both for our own websites and those of our clients.

It’s the easiest to integrate, comes with WooCommerce’s 5-star support, and is compatible with every official WooCommerce payment processor. 

Every time I have a “WooNightmare”, the team handles it quickly and I’m on my merry way back to worrying about other things.

But is it worth the price tag? And do you even need all the fancy features?

In this guide, I’ll cover:

  • How to use this plugin
  • My experiences with it over the last 4 years
  • A deep dive into each feature
  • Why it might not be for everyone
  • A few alternatives in case you don’t have the budget

But before we start, story time! 

Lesson Learned: Pay the Price for the Official Plugin Unless You Don’t Have the Money

“People never cancel subscriptions”.

I’ll never forget the day I heard a speaker say that at a marketing conference. I’m reminded of it every time I check my credit card bill (I should really cancel that language app...).

Subscription-based models create more residual income, more stability, and more chances for add-ons or upsells. And they’re almost completely hands-off - or so I thought.

So I totally revamped one of my services and moved to a subscription model.

That’s when I made my biggest mistake.

WooCommerce was $199 per year, and I wasn’t that stable at the time. Plus I was new in this area. So I decided to “save” and go for something cheaper. Why pay $199/yearr when I can just pay a one-time $49 fee?

Boy, was I wrong.

I lost a bunch of sales that I would have normally made because I couldn’t accept common payment processors. 

And any time something went wrong, I spoke to someone who ONLY knew about their product. NOT about the details of WooCommerce. So every minor inconvenience turned into a WooNightmare that could have easily been avoided.

That’s not even mentioning the sales I probably missed out on because I couldn’t offer more flexible monthly plans.

WooCommerce Subscriptions IS NOT PERFECT - but it’s way MORE PERFECT than any competitor. And if you think about it, $199/year is ridiculously cheap for what it gives you. 

I’m kicking myself while writing this blog.

You’ll get a better product, make more sales, and have all your problems solved quickly for what amounts to a few more dollars per month.

If you’ve got the money, it’s a mistake NOT TO BUY IT.

I Recommend WooCommerce Subscriptions IF… 

  • You want hassle-free subscription management: The WooCommerce team is the best in the business. Any plugin BUT the WooCommerce one and you’ll talk to staff who don’t know the first thing about WooCommerce. The people behind “Subscriptions” made the dang platform.
  • You never miss a sale due to payment processors: Most subscription plugins only accept a few payment options. WooCommerce accepts 25, including every official gateway of WooCommerce (Surprise!).
  • You want software made for WooCommerce: It’s the official vendor plugin, so it’s designed for WooCommerce by WooCommerce. Most others are just guessing. And if the platform ever makes changes, everyone else is a step behind.
  • You just want to focus on your business: The functionality and support are so good that you’ll save time and save the hassle of dealing with subscriptions. Just focus on your business - let WooCommerce handle the rest.

I Don’t Recommend WooCommerce Subscriptions IF…

  • You’re on a tight budget: If you’re just starting out on a micro-budget, then find a cheaper alternative.
  • You have very basic subscription needs: WooCommerce is the most powerful subscription plugin out there and gives you a lot of room to customize your subscription packages. If you have very basic requirements, it might be overkill. 

This article has been updated in September 2020 to add any necessary new details and features about this product. Rest assured that this article is as relevant as it can get.

Contents[Show]

 

Summary

  Overall

 4.5/5

  Ease of use

 4.5/5

  Reliability

 4.5/5

  Support

 4.5/5

  Value

 4/5

Price

$199

Free Version

No

What We Liked

 Very powerful subscription plugin for WordPress/WooCommerce.

 

 Flexible means you can handle various forms of subscription products.

 

 Direct from WooCommerce vendor.

 

 Managing subscribers, levels and groups is simple.

 

 Vast options for payment gateway integration.

What We Didn't Like

 WooCommerce per is heavy sometimes you just need simple subscription plans.

 Website

Visit Website to Download Now

 

What is WooCommerce Subscriptions?

WooCommerce Subscriptions

WooCommerce Subscriptions is a premium extension that you can use with your WooCommerce store. The extension is an eCommerce platform for building various subscription products and services with recurring pricing models. This helps you get a realistic projection of the expected monthly income from your online business, while handling the nitty-gritty details and complexities of managing a subscription model

WooCommerce Subscriptions gives your business the power to offer custom subscription packages and other means of generating residual income from physical and virtual products or services. Including:

  • Product-of-the-month clubs (subscription box)
  • Free trials
  • Multiple billing schedules: Weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, annually, etc.
  • Automatic rebilling
  • Automatic emails
  • Detailed reporting

So, instead of offering just a one-time payment, you could, in theory, get a customer to pay you 12 times per year for the same product or service (Or 52 times if your product warrants it!).

Once they sign up, the plugin handles almost everything. 

You just focus on your business as the money is automatically charged to your client’s PayPal, credit card (through Stripe or other payment gateway integration), bank account, etc. If any changes need to be made, WooCommerce Subscriptions allows your customer to upgrade, downgrade, cancel, or be in total control of their subscription.

It’s by far the most popular subscriptions plugin out there, mainly because it’s the easiest to use with WooCommerce (Surprise…) and for the knowledgeable support staff.

NOTE: WooCommerce Subscriptions supports 30 payment gateways, which is why I love it. You’ll never get an angry client email screaming “WHY CAN’T YOU ACCEPT AMAZON PAY!?” 

Visit WooCommerce Website Now to Learn More

 

Features

Here are a few of the key features that make WooCommerce so popular:

manage subscription

  1. Multiple/various billing schedules depending on your needs
  2. Manual renewal of payments so that you handle customer calls or queries directly
  3. Automatic invoices and receipts by email and renewal notifications with automatic emails
  4. Automatic rebilling for failed payments
  5. Allows customers to manage their own plans including upgrading and downgrading their plans without intervention
  6. Detailed reports to allow the business owner to keep track of recurring revenue, number of active subscribers, etc.
  7. Charge an initial amount (different than the plan) to account for any customer setup cost overheads, or allow customers to try before they buy, by adding sign-up fees and free trials to any subscription product.
  8. Have variable subscription products so as to allow customers to choose a subscription that suits their own requirements. Customers can also choose their own billing schedule
  9. Subscription products can be downloadable, virtual or physical.

 

 

Store owners have full control over the subscription management via the WooCommerce > Edit Subscription administration screen. From this screen,  the administrator can suspend or cancel a subscription, change the period when the trial expires, add any items, add shipping, fees or taxes to the subscription or modify the recurring total for future payments. With such flexibility, you can be sure that you are able to handle any customer queries that come in.

Customers have the ability to manage their own subscriptions. By visiting My Account > View Subscription page, subscribers can suspend or cancel a subscription, change the shipping address or payment method for future renewals and upgrade or downgrade their subscription without having to get in touch.

If you only ship on specific days of the month, or need to align all customers to the same membership term, you can use the renewal synchronization feature. At the same time, you can also prorate the first payment of a synchronized subscription purchase.

 

You can charge renewal payments weekly, monthly or annually, or limit the product to one-per-customer. You can even charge shipping only on the initial order.

Customers can buy different subscription products in the same transaction and the plugin will group the products into one payment to reduce the payment gateway fees and logistical overhead for renewals.

As somebody who has worked with subscriptions, you'll find that there will be all types of circumstances that would require some kind of manual intervention. The fact that there is this level of flexibility at an individual subscription level gives a level of confidence in dealing with customer issues easily.

 

 

 

my subscriptions management

Should you implement a custom recurring revenue model?

Looking at this model at face value, things might seem pretty straightforward and not much different from a normal, one-time fee payment model.

In reality, as you'll discover when you start digging in, this revenue model is much more nuanced than a one-time fee payment model:

  • What happens if a customer's Credit Card expires?
  • What happens if a Credit Card payment doesn't go through?
  • Do you stop their access to the service/product immediately? Is there a grace period?
  • What happens when a customer cancels the next payment during an already paid period? Do you cancel access immediately? Do you cancel access at the end of the paid time-period?
  • How do you send reminders when the subscription or Credit Card is about to expire?
  • How do you handle upgrades/downgrades smoothly?

These and plenty of other edge cases make it complex to implement a custom subscription-based model.

That's why having a plugin for your WooCommerce store that enables the handling of recurring payments and all of this automatically is an absolute real benefit to your business.

With this customizable eCommerce platform, you get the benefits of a recurring payments model, without the complexities associated with implementing this type of model.

Why You Should Use WooCommerce Subscriptions

The WooCommerce subscriptions plugin (or others like it) has a whole host of options that make it an obvious choice for creating subscription-based business models.

Let’s take a few minutes to check out some of the features in more detail.

Create various packages and subscription plans

The extension allows you to set up as many packages of recurring payments or different subscription plans as you need for your business's use case. 

subscription plans

Additionally, there is also an option to allow customers to choose a custom billing schedule that fits their requirements (provided that you allow this).

You can also offer a free trial, this will allow your potential customers to try the subscription product or service before they buy, you can also specify the length of the free trial period.

If you would rather have customers who are committed, you can enable an option that asks for a minimal signup fee before allowing customers to try. For example, you could use to offer the first month at $1 - Try for $1, with the possibility of canceling in the first 30 days. 

Manage customers using the Management Options

The accounting and product admin(s) can manage all the existing customers by going to WooCommerce > Edit Subscription.

You will find separate options to

  • suspend or cancel existing items,
  • add items,
  • reset the trial expiration date,
  • configure the shipping options,
  • tax details,
  • etc.

Such options are very useful when you run into payment problems, or just want to show goodwill to your customers who might not have put in the correct details.

In reality, all sorts of payment issues will arise, some customers might opt for a free-trial, then not have time to check it out and require an extension. Some might have issues logging in, or maybe you simply want to extend the trial to a few more days. 

The more flexibility the product offers the better.

WooCommerce Subscriptions should have enough features in place to cater to the most common customer payment issues and scenarios.

Being able to intervene manually is something we find useful because inevitably, circumstances will arise which will require some input from your sales administrators.

user subscription management

The extension also offers management options for subscribers. Customers will find options to

  • manually suspend or cancel any active subscription,
  • change the payment method for future payments,
  • change their current plan, upgrade or downgrade
  • and update their shipping address.

This allows customers to be in full control of their payments and not feel locked in. This level of transparency and freedom gives your end-users peace of mind, usually prolonging your business relationship with them.

Flexible Subscription Scheduling

By default, the extension will initiate the subscription schedule as soon as the customer has made the payment.

In some situations, you might need to provide the products or services to ALL the subscribers on the same day, for example, in the case when you make a delivery run on a particular day.

This applies most especially to subscription box type of businesses, where deliveries occur on a specific date. Billing should, therefore, be synched to that same date.

In this case, all subscribers should get billed on the same date, irrespective of their date of purchase.

custom scheduling

WooCommerce Subscriptions comes with an intuitive solution to address this problem.

The built-in renewal synchronization feature allows the customers to sign up at any time. However, the payment will start from the next billing date.

The extension also allows you to prorate the first payment and then continue from the next billing date.

As you can see from this very specific scenario, the developers of this plugin have thought of all possible situations and addressed them in advance. We do believe that the development team has integrated a lot of real-world feedback and cases into the product.

Reduce fees by Grouping Multiple Plans or Product Purchases

In some scenarios, your customers might want to purchase different products and services at the same time. Given that most payment gateway services add a percentage fee to each transaction, your fees will increase substantially.

Also, when a customer makes separate payments for each purchase, besides having to pay the payment gateway fee separately, you also have to deal with the logistics and renewal issues for each purchase. In the case of a subscription product, if a customer chooses two separate "packs", shipping them together would also reduce your postage and packing costs. 

WooCommerce Subscriptions offers a unique solution to address the problem. The extension will group similar items and reduce the fees for your business hassles.

Boost Conversions using fully customizable Coupons and Discounts on your plans

Time-limited coupons and discounts are a proven way of boosting conversions.

You can implement on your WooCommerce store by providing exclusive coupons on various occasions (such as Black Friday, the festive seasons, or other one-off occasions as necessary).

The Subscription extension supports coupons for both signup and recurring payments.

When you offer a signup coupon, customers will get a discount on first signing up but would have to pay the regular amount for recurring fees.

Coupons feature

On the other hand, one can offer a coupon that applies to the recurring payment i.e. a discount that applies to the whole subscription plan.

For both discount types, it is possible to offer a fixed amount (for example $10 off) or choose a percentage of the total amount (10% off).

Fully customizable email notifications

Transactional based notifications are great for eCommerce sites, yet using your brand's tone of voice ensures there is consistency across all communications with your client.

As the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension comes with full support for notification emails, both the admin(s) and the customer will get notifications for various events. You can enable or disable emails for various events like:

  • new renewal order,
  • renewal completion,
  • renewal invoice,
  • payment retry,
  • suspension,
  • expiry,
  • cancellation,
  • switching of plans, etc.

It is also possible to customize the header, subject, recipient(s), reply-to email address for each of these emails.

Ways to Implement Recurring Payments

One rule of business that has held steady is that it is always easier to do business with existing customers as opposed to gaining new customers. This is because, with existing customers, you have already earned a good level of trust that they have bought from you, therefore it is easier to get them to purchase something else.

That is one of the main reasons why recurring payments based businesses are so popular these days.

This concept can be implemented using the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin.

There are different types of recurring payments you can use. Let’s take a look at the popular types of plans:

1. Membership Plans

Membership plans are undoubtedly the most used subscription-based business.

subscription membership plans

This is so common that you probably have subscribed to many such plans for your services already. Most online tools, platforms, and software support are provided as membership plans (typically monthly or annually). Such online tools are known as Subscription as a Service or SaaS.

These can also be used for "offline products" or services, such as membership classes for gyms, fitness, yoga, or any other types of classes. 

Even online magazines can use such models to keep content behind a paywall, or if you have a marketplace that you would like to be accessed based on periodical subscription.

All of these models and many more can be handled through membership plans.

In this payment model, you offer the services or products in exchange for a monthly fee via a trusted payment gateway. Since your business integrates with a payment gateway, there would be no need to store any credit card or payment details, so there is no need to meet the stringent ISO requirements needed to store financial data.

With a payment gateway, your WooCommerce store would only have to communicate with the payment gateway and check whether a specific transaction has gone through or not. This gives your customers the flexibility of using any payment method they prefer for their recurring payments, while you don't incur the costs and risks of having to store financial data.

The WooCommerce Subscriptions extension allows you to create this kind of model. You can create different types of membership plans with different facilities and/or options attached to them.

Your customers then can switch to higher or lower packages according to their requirements.

Given that you're looking for Membership plans, why not have a look at our membership website templates roundup? We've featured the best themes and plugins for membership sites!

2. Subscribe for Discounts

Offering discounts on regular purchases is another popular recurring payments-based business model.

This is especially applicable if you offer discounts for products which are daily necessities for customers. This is a win-win situation for both parties – you are getting more sales, and your customers are getting the chance to save on the items they purchase regularly.

amazon subscribe save

Amazon’s Subscribe & Save is a perfect example of this strategy.

This special plan allows customers to subscribe to getting various household items. In exchange, they can enjoy additional benefits on other items while shopping from Amazon.

3. Subscription Boxes

Subscribing to monthly or regular boxes are another fun and interesting business idea based on a slightly different concept. This model has become very popular in recent years, thanks to various niches such as beauty, makeup, wine or food, health, supplements, and other small "shippable" items.

Subscription Boxes

In this model, customers subscribe for a box or package of different items that will be delivered on a fixed schedule.

This method allows customers to test 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.

Subscription boxes can work in most popular niches including snacks, beverages, desserts, cosmetics, beauty products, toys, tools, crafts, fitness items, mystery items, and plenty of other niches.

The key to success is identifying your customers, keeping the box unique, and providing constant value.

Of course, when creating such products, you might require specific custom fields to ensure you are giving your customers exactly what they need. While this is not a part of this product or built-in to the WooCommerce store plugin by default, there are plenty of extensions that allow you to create your custom fields on the products you're selling.

The WooCommerce extra product optionsextension is a good option if you require custom fields or product add-ons. 

4. Recurring Services

Recurring services could be a very profitable business strategy for both physical and digital services.

The WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin makes it possible to have recurring payments for both kinds of services.

For example, if you offer physical services like salon, spa, parlor, massaging, etc., you can offer weekly, fortnightly, or monthly packages for your customers.

bluehost recurring pricing

This type of model has already become the dominant business method for digital services (e.g. website maintenance, digital marketing, web hosting, etc etc).

This is because most digital products require access to continuous resources. Cloud storage, web hosting, online streaming, managed WordPress hosting, technical support, expert recommendations, CDNs, web security, project management and hundreds of other types of products are all billed on subscription.

Use these different types of subscription-based business types, to set up a plan type for your business, following the examples of existing businesses and their current plans. You should identify your primary competitors, then compete either by offering a better price, or better value.

Download WooCommerce Subscriptions Now

How to Set Up WooCommerce Subscriptions

Now that you know what features are available with the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension and which business models are available, let’s take some time to explain how to set up the plugin.

Creating the Plans

As we discussed above, the plugin allows you to create both simple and variable subscription plans. You can add a new subscription by going to Products > Add Product from the dashboard.

Create new Product Plan

When using the variable product, you can create several variations of a package with individual settings for each variation. It is also possible to use an existing product attribute or create new ones for your products.

The process will be familiar if you have used and set up a WooCommerce store before.

Setting the Price

The ‘Subscription Price’ section allows you to define the price of your package/plan.

Next, you will find the options to choose the payment frequency. The sign-up fee, free trial, and special discounts options are also available here as you can see below:

subscription payment setup

In the case of variable plan packages, you can set up the individual settings by going to the ‘Variations’ section. You can choose a separate price, payment frequency, sign-up fee, discount, for each variation.

If your subscription plan is limited in nature (for example, not more than 5 times), the plugin also allows you to limit the number of times a billing is triggered. To do that, go to the ‘Advanced’ section, and choose the desired option from the ‘Limit Subscription’ field.

Shipping Options

Shipping options are very similar to those available with the standard WooCommerce store functionality.

However, for subscriptions, you have various ways to handle the shipping. You can either include the shipping costs in the price of the plan, or you could choose to charge for shipping every time.

If you want, you can also choose to apply the shipping charge only once during the lifetime of the product.

one time shipping

This is especially applicable for physical devices like mobile phones and various machinery items.

WooCommerce comes ready to meet this requirement. You just need to go to the ‘Shipping’ section and check the ‘Charge Shipping Once’ box.

Setting up Coupons

Setting up coupons

The extension also supports coupons or special discounts for your customers.

You can add, edit, and manage the existing coupons by going to the WooCommerce > Coupons page from your website’s dashboard.

If you have never used a coupon on your WooCommerce site before, you need to enable the coupons functionality first by going to WooCommerce > Settings > General > Enable coupons.

Subscriptions Management

Management of customers and products

You will find a list of all the active and current subscriptions in the WooCommerce > Subscriptions page.

For each product, you will find all the relevant information including the currents status, number, the item(s), payment amount and frequency, start date, trial end date, next payment date, and any other information related to this purchase.

Items in the list are sortable by each of these fields.

It is also possible to search for a particular customer by using the name, address, email address, product name, and other fields.

The extension comes with several other management and customization options, but it is out of the scope of this article to cover all these options.

If you want to get a complete overview of the available options, you should check out the official documentation.

 

Pricing

WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin costs $199 for a single site license. That might seem a bit pricey at first, but think about it in terms of VALUE, NOT cost.

$199/year empowers you to earn recurring revenue, set up manual packages to entice more sign-ups, and earn far more money than a one-time fee. 

And you get support from the people who actually run the WooCommerce platform (a platform owned by Automattic, the company powering WordPress with a reputation to uphold) rather than a 3rd-party vendor who has less long-term commitment. 

So whenever you have a problem, you get real WooCommerce people guiding you to the solution, not some support team from another company.

You might save $100 a year with a different plugin, but think about all the time you’ll waste and sales you’ll lose when the plugin doesn’t support the right payment gateway or if something goes wrong. 

And how much money would you lose if you miss a payment run? And what about the cost of your time?

Believe me, it’s not worth the hassle to pinch pennies.

woocommerce subscriptions pricing

BONUS: If you are a web designer or agency, you get very attractive discounts by purchasing the 5 or 25-sites licenses. All purchases come with 1 full year of support and updates.

Click here for the lowest price on WooCommerce Subscriptions in September 2020

WooCommerce Subscriptions Download

If you think this is the right tool, your next step is to buy the extension, download it and install it on your WooCommerce store.

If you find that you are not happy with your purchase, you have a full 30-day money-back guarantee.

Just download it here, give it a spin yourself and see whether it works for you or not.

Testimonials

In reality, we doubt you'll be having any second thoughts. Currently, the product enjoys a rating of 4.45 stars out of 5, with such reviews and comments as:

"Very pleased"

joseph meyer testimonial

"5 stars without question - I’ve been using the plugin for about 4 years and have only good things to say about it",

"Excellent product, excellent support! I can not recommend this product enough.",

"The product has saved our business"

A review by the guys at Templatic had this to say about the product: "Highly recommended".

templatic review

Even of G2 reviews, the product is highly-rated and has some great comments such as the below:

g2 reviews

Download the list of 101 WordPress tricks every blogger should know

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Click here to Download Now
 

Alternatives to the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin

As we have seen, the extension provides the perfect solution for offering different types of subscription-based products or services.

But that doesn’t mean there is no other solution for developing a recurring payments website. There are a number of WooCommerce subscription plugin options that you could use.

There are a few premium WooCommerce subscription plugins that also allow you to create such products or services on your site.

Let’s take a look at some those other plugins: 

1. YITH - WooCommerce Subscription

YITH WooCommerce Subscription

 

Your Inspiration Themes’s, YITH WooCommerce Subscription is my second favorite subscriptions plugin.  It about $80 cheaper for a single site license.

In my opinion, it’s nearly as good as WooCommerce’s plugin, just without the support and payment integrations (Which is key).

People love it, though: 21,500 customers, 97% customer satisfaction rate, and a 4.5/5-star rating don’t lie.another excellent plugin for creating various recurring-based products or services. 

It comes with many of the same features as WooCommerce subs:

  • Sell products: Magazine, periodicals, audio/visual products
  • Services: Training, consultancy, coaching, courses, etc.
  • Free trial
  • Multi-tier subscription levels
  • Customer control: Pause, resume, or cancel at any time.
  • Simple (Static) or variable products

And now for the downside: It only accepts 6 payment gateways. If you’re a small store, you should be fine with just PayPal and Stripe, but this puts an artificial ceiling on your growth. As you grow and reach new clientele, you’ll encounter more and more payment issues (Ask me how I know…).

The price of the YITH WooCommerce subscription plugin starts at $129.99 for a single site. You can view a Live Demo of the product by clicking on the link below.

Visit YITH WooCommerce Subscription plugin website 

2. Subscriptions for WooCommerce

Subscriptions for WooCommerce is another premium option from WebToffee.

variable subscription product settings

As with most of the options here, the payment gateways integrated to the product are limited (Stripe and Paypal only), so if you plan to go far and wide, you might want to look elsewhere, otherwise it gets the job done.

Some of its notable features include:

  • Variable subscriptions
  • Synchronized renewals
  • Subscription management directly by customers and store owners
  • Multiple billing schedules

The product is priced between $89 and $199, depending on how many sites you plan to use it on. Check it out by clicking the below button.

Check it out today 

3. Subscriptio

Subscriptio WooCommerce Subscriptions 

Subscriptio is a good budget option for bootstrappers, but I don’t recommend it for established businesses.

It’s one of CodeCanyon’s most popular plugins with more than 6,500 sales and a 4.3 rating over 140 reviews. So at least you know it works and works well.

It has everything you need to offer subscription plans, so you’ll be fine with a small store service:

  • Simple and variable products
  • Membership plans
  • Magazine subs
  • Learning resources
  • Free trials with varying lengths
  • Setup fees, payment cycles, etc
  • Customer control: Pause, upgrade, or cancel at any time

Subscriptio is best if you plan to ONLY accept PayPal or Stripe. 

The plugin also allows fully automatic or semi-automatic billing, which offers complete control to the customer. If you are a developer and want to further customize the plugin, you will find the built-in hooks and filters very useful to integrate with.

Some other notable features include: 

  • Possibility to purchase subscription and non-subscription products during a single checkout
  • Subscription list and subscription management tools for customers
  • Related subscriptions displayed for each order that contains subscriptions to increase cross-sell
  • Lots of hooks and filters for developers

Subscriptio is priced from $69 to $299 depending on the options you choose. You can visit the Live Preview by clicking on the link below.

Download Subscriptio Now

4. Sumo Subscriptions

SUMO Subscriptions 

SUMO Subscriptions make the bold claim that they are the most comprehensive WooCommerce subscriptions plugin. They have less sales that Subscriptio, at about 1800 but have a higher rating of 4.8 / 5 stars.

It includes automatic renewals with PayPal and Stripe ONLY, with any other payment gateways, you will need to perform manual subscription renewals. Again, that’s a huge minus if you ask me.

Some notable features include: 

  • Automatic Subscription Renewal using SUMO Reward Points Payment Gateway(requires SUMO Reward Points Plugin)
  • Multiple payment reminder emails can be sent
  • Master Log to record all the transactions throughout the site
  • Recurring Donations(requires SUMO Donations Plugin)
  • Compatible with SUMO Reward Points(requires SUMO Reward Points Plugin)

Sumo costs between $49 and $490 depending on what options you choose. Check out Sumo and its demo by clicking below. 

Check out Sumo

5. Paid Memberships PRO

paid memberships pro logo1 

If you’re a membership site, this is the best alternative for you. PaidMembershipsPro is exactly what it sounds like - THE plugin for membership sites, NOT physical/digital products. 

It’s the most popular memberships plugin out there (90,000 + active installs), and supports 75 addons and integrations, you’ll never find yourself short of functionaly when you need it.

If you plan to offer any subscription for any length of time, I recommend this even more than I recommend WooCommerce. 

Now for the downside. This is MORE EXPENSIVE than WooCommerce. Of course, you get way more membership options. Pricing starts at $297. 

It’s also only for memberships, not really for subscriptions. So it all depends on what you plan to offer. 

paid memberships pro 

Sharing details about this product will be an extensive task, so we've actually reviewed this in detail here, but suffice to say, we gave this product a rating of 4.5 out 5 stars (and we have a very high-standard against which we measure products).

The product also has a free version with the Premium version costing $297 and can be used for up to 5 sites.

Check out Paid Memberships Pro

6. MemberPress

Memberpress

Finally, we're going to mention another subscription alternative for those who want to create a membership-based site and do not really need a WooCommerce store. MemberPress is another powerful product to create subscriptions for membership plans.

Once again, this is a full-blown membership product that is an absolute gem and pleasure to use. For those considering a membership site, MemberPress offers a wealth of features that are hard to match by any plugin that lives as an extension to WooCommerce.

MemberPress gives your members the ability to create, update, and upgrade or cancel their subscriptions directly. By leveraging an automated billing system on the payment gateway's side there's no complex setup. MemberPress will automatically grant or revoke access to your members based on those payments.

MemberPress pricing starts at $149 which includes 1-year of support and updates, integration with Paypal and Stripe and more than 10 add-ons and is available for use on 1 site.

Check out MemberPress

Finally, if you're not completely convinced whether this is the way to go for and you want to look at other options, you might want to have a look at our WooCommerce vs Shopify Guide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can WooCommerce do subscriptions?

Yes, WooCommerce can do subscriptions, however, this is not enabled in the core plugin. You'll need to install one of the plugins mentioned in the above post, including one which is available directly from the WooCommerce website.

Is there a monthly fee for WooCommerce?

No, WooCommerce is free and there are no monthly fees. The only monthly fee you will have to pay is for your hosting.

How do I add a subscription to WooCommerce?

You can add a subscription to WooCommerce simply by installing the Subscriptions extension or a 3rd party plugin that provides this functionality, all of which are mentioned in the post above. You can then decide what kind of plans you would like to implement.

How do I accept a recurring payment on WordPress?

The easiest way to accept recurring payments on WordPress is to install WooCommerce, purchase a copy of the Subscriptions extension and then create the recurring payment plan you need.

Can Stripe do recurring payments?

Yes, Stripe can do recurring payments, particularly if you use it via the plugin mentioned above. The actual payment is enabled via the extension, Stripe just handles the payment part.

Does WooCommerce cost money?

No, the WooCommerce store core download is completely free.

Conclusion

 

In my opinion, WooCommerce Subscriptions is easily the best subscriptions plugin. After all, it is the official subscription plugin built by the platform. 

It’s compatible with the vast majority of major payment gateways, the interface is clean and simple, and it’s built by the WooCommerce team, so integration and support are unrivaled.

I normally try to remain as neutral as possible, but in this case, it’s hard for me not to be all for it.

Yes, it is pricey, and it might be a bit overkill for simple subscriptions packages, but you’ll regret NOT buying it when you realize how much hassle it is dealing with a 3rd-party instead of directly with the Woo team.

 

Visit WooCommerce Subscriptions website now

About the Author
David Attard
Author: David AttardWebsite:https://www.linkedin.com/in/dattard/
David has been working in or around the online / digital industry for the last 18 years. He has vast experience in the software and web design industries using WordPress, Joomla and niches surrounding them. As a digital consultant, his focus is on helping businesses get a competitive advantage using a combination of their website and digital platforms available today.

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