Would your customers prefer to pay for items in installments rather than upfront?
Do you have products and services, such as online courses, communities, and software, that would work better with subscription fees instead of one-off payments?
Would you like to collect recurring revenue from your site or store?
Maybe you’re a freelancer who wants to start charging your clients on a retainer basis or put them on monthly plans as opposed to charging them one-time fees for your services.
If so, you might be wondering how you can go about setting up subscriptions on your website.
Thankfully, whatever your subscription-related goals, collecting recurring payments on your site can be very straightforward.
If you’re using WordPress and WooCommerce – or willing to start using them – there’s a powerful extension that contains all the functionality you’re likely to need.
In this guide to enabling WooCommerce subscriptions, we cover which tool to use and how to set it up. But first, let’s take a quick look at subscriptions and the benefits of enabling them.
About WooCommerce Subscriptions
For this guide, we’ll be using the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension.
At $199/year, it’s not a cheap tool. But if you set it up right, it should enable you to start generating recurring or residual revenue at your store. Setting up subscriptions has many benefits, not least increasing profits. Here are some of them:
Sell a Wider Variety of Products
As well as unlocking recurring payments, the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension lets you offer a wider range of products and services at your store. It also gives your customers and clients new ways to pay for your existing items.
For example, you could let your customers pay for products or services over a set number of months instead of in one upfront payment. This could encourage them to spend more at your store or make a purchase they might have otherwise not, thanks to their ability to spread the cost.
Sell Items on a Subscription Basis
You can also list items for sale with ongoing membership or subscription payments.
Examples include access to online courses, community spaces, or software that you offer as a service. If you sell software with a yearly license, you can use the subscription functionality to automatically collect the annual license renewal payments.
Collect Recurring Freelance Fees
If you’re a freelancer, you might want to offer subscription services. This could include a set number of hours or deliverables each month in exchange for a recurring monthly payment.
Start Generating Recurring Revenue
Receiving recurring revenue makes your income more predictable. It helps you to plan for the future as you have a better idea of how much revenue will be generated each month, rather than not knowing how many new clients or additional payments from existing clients you’ll be able to generate.
The same applies to product sales. Instead of collecting a one-time payment for access to a physical or digital product, you can grant access on a subscription basis. This would involve collecting payments for a set number of months or for as long as the customer wishes to retain access. You can also offer subscription purchases, where a new product, such as a refill, is sent out at set intervals, and the payments are collected automatically.
Hopefully, you can see the benefits of offering subscriptions on your site.
If the idea sounds appealing, here’s how you go about enabling subscription payments with WooCommerce.
How to Start Using Subscriptions with WooCommerce
Install the WooCommerce Subscription Extension
You will need a WordPress website using WooCommerce for this method of taking subscription payments online.
Once you have a WordPress website with WooCommerce installed, you can install the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension.
After you’ve purchased the extension and downloaded it, you can upload it to your WordPress dashboard from the Add Plugins screen.
Click on the Plugins > Add New sidebar menu item in your WordPress dashboard to get there.
From the Add Plugins screen, click on the Upload Plugin button.
Next, locate the WooCommerce Subscriptions file you downloaded when you purchased the extension. Click on the Install Now button to add it to your site.
On the next screen, click on the Activate Plugin button.
Creating a Subscription Product
Once the extension is activated, you can begin using it by creating a new product at your store.
To do so, click on Products > Add New from the sidebar menu in your WordPress dashboard.
You can also edit an existing product to make it a subscription product.
From the Product screen, you can now select either Simple subscription or Variable subscription from the Product Type dropdown menu.
Two very helpful videos explain the details of the simple and variable subscription options on the WooCommerce site.
However, if you want to create a single item that’s purchased with recurring payments, the Simple subscription type is best.
If you’d like to create more complicated subscriptions, including items with multiple variations or options, such as different subscription tiers, each with their own sign-up fees or recurring prices, you can use the variable subscription option.
You can learn more about variable subscriptions on the WooCommerce site.
For this guide, we’ll stick with the Simple subscription product type.
Defining the Subscription Product Terms
Once you’ve chosen Simple subscription from the Product Type dropdown menu, you can start defining the terms of the subscription.
You can now set the subscription price, including how often the payment is collected. You can also set an expiry date for the payments or let the subscription run indefinitely. Adding a sign-up fee is an option, too.
The WooCommerce Subscriptions extension makes it possible to set up a free trial for your product. The trial period can be set to a number of days, weeks, months, or years.
Other settings you might want to investigate include limiting the number of subscriptions each customer can have, giving customers the ability to automatically upgrade or downgrade their subscriptions, and adding shipping fees to the subscription. You can also create discount coupons for your subscriptions.
Once you’ve finished defining the details of the subscription, you can enter the rest of the information about the product, such as a description and images. Then, when you’re done, hit the Publish or Update button to make the product available to your visitors.
Other Features of the WooCommerce Subscriptions Extension
As you’ve just seen, creating a simple subscription product with WooCommerce and this extension is very straightforward. However, this add-on can do a lot more, including:
- Integrate with over 25 payment gateways
- Automatic rebilling of failed subscription payments
- Built-in renewal notification emails to keep customers in the loop
- Detailed reports on your subscriptions.
You can view the full capabilities on the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension page.
Now that you know how to add subscription products to your WordPress website, you can start selling your products and services in new ways.
From creating products that are sold on a subscription basis to collecting recurring payments in exchange for your services, there are many ways to implement this functionality at your site.
If you already have lots of products at your store, and you’d like to enable subscription payments for them, the All Products extension for WooCommerce Subscriptions can help simplify this process.
Don’t forget you can try a free demo of the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension to see if it’s really the right tool for you.
If you have any questions about setting up subscriptions with WordPress and WooCommerce, please leave a comment below.