WooCommerce Subscriptions: An Insider’s Look At eCommerce Subscription Plans
Nowadays, consumer-buying habits are trending towards hassle free shopping experiences. This means less brick-and-mortar store shopping, and much more online shopping.
In response, many website owners are opening up eCommerce shops to sell products to their followers, are marketing to new customers across the internet, and are trying to build international brands for the ultimate success story. More so, website owners are looking to break into the world of online commerce subscription plans to boost revenue and create a consistent flow of income.
For example, look at the success of Birchbox. Capitalizing on the fact that they already sell regular sized beauty products to their loyal customers via their eCommerce shop, the team at Birchbox then takes it one step further by creating a monthly online subscription for customers seeking trial sized beauty products. This way, new and interested customers can try products before committing to full-sized product purchases.
In addition, loyal customers can branch out and experience new products without shelling out too much cash should they not like the products they received. Plus, it is just plain exciting to get a delivery once a month with a variety of fun-sized beauty products to test out for a relatively low monthly subscription price.
In the end, not only did this build Birchbox’s customer base and increase annual sales, it prompted the beginning of what soon turn into a regular happening across the web – eCommerce subscriptions.
In the past, we have shared with you various eCommerce shop platform options, ways to improve your customers’ online shopping experience, and even how to design the perfect online shop using a professional looking eCommerce WordPress theme.
However, today we are going to expand on those ideas and show you how you can boost your own sales and create a steady stream of income by selling your favorite products or services using WooCommerce Subscriptions.
What is a Subscription?
The concept of subscriptions have been around for a long time. However, it wasn’t until the internet boom that subscriptions really began to take off in many different directions. This is especially true about product or service based subscription offerings.
Customers know subscriptions to be convenient, affordable, and of course recurring. With a subscription, there is no need to continually shop for something that is needed or wanted every week or month. Instead, products are delivered straight to the front door with payments being withdrawn regularly and automatically.
And to top it off, eCommerce shop owners who offer subscription plans now have a predictable source of income coming in each month. It is a win-win situation all around.
Subscriptions comes in many different forms. In fact, if you think outside of the box just a little bit, almost every online shop offers something to customers that can turn into a subscription item.
Membership based subscriptions are probably one of the most well known types of eCommerce subscriptions today. This business model typically sells a popular or exclusive product to customers in return for a recurring payment. For example, King of Shaves, a high profile eCommerce retailer offering customer subscriptions, help men with all of their shaving needs with their various subscription plans. The key here is that you receive the same products every month so that the need to shop for them at brick-and-mortar shops is no longer required.
Sometimes the lure of additional savings is enough to get someone to sign up for a subscription. Especially if the products you are offering discounts on are products your customers are going to buy regularly anyways. By doing this, you increase sales and your customers catch a deal on things they need to buy.
One of the leaders in subscription plans that save customers on later purchases is Amazon’s Subscribe & Save plan. By purchasing regularly through a subscription plan, Amazon rewards you by unlocking special deals and discounts to be used on future purchases.
Much like the above-mentioned Birchbox subscription plans, subscription boxes are a fun and exciting way to get new products to your subscribers for a recurring monthly price. These boxes can include things such as:
- Snack foods
- Beauty products
- Health and fitness items
- Mystery items such as the ones Nerd Block sends out
- Kid related toys and accessories
- Craft materials
Just because your online shop deso not deal with physical products, does not mean you cannot offer your services in the form of a subscription. For instance, companies such as Dropbox make millions of dollars with their storage subscriptions. Better yet, if you own a salon or spa and offer beauty services, having customers sign up for regular treatments is a great way to utilize the subscription business model. A great example of this is the popular American wellness center Massage Envy.
Still not sure offering subscriptions on your website is a good idea?
Let’s look at how the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin can help you achieve the success that so many other online shops have:
- Several billing schedules available for setting up recurring payments as you see fit.
- Automatic payment collection using one of over 25 payment gateways.
- Manual renewal payments complete with email invoices and receipts.
- Discounts on subscription signups.
- Customer account management for upgrading their subscription plan.
- Free trial ability to encourage commitments.
- Renewal notification for you and your customers.
If you are not currently using the most popular, cost effective, and easy-to-use eCommerce platform WooCommerce on your WordPress website, stop what you are doing right now and download that plugin first. Not only will your pocket book thank you, but your customers will too. Creating, managing, and maintaining an online store has never been easier thanks to the WooCommerce plugin.
Not to mention, WooCommerce Subscriptions needs WooCommerce to work.
Setting up WooCommerce Subscriptions
In order to get started with WooCommerce Subscriptions there are a number of things you need to do before offering your subscription plans to customers.
- Create the products you are offering as part of a subscription.
- Determine any discounts or special deals you will offer with your subscription products.
- Integrate payment gateways associated with your subscription products.
- Configure subscription payment schedules.
- Determine shipping details.
- Create customer account pages.
- Integrate a subscription shortcode to display subscription options throughout your website.
- Customize subscription emails for communicating with your customers.
Setting up WooCommerce Subscriptions as a Developer
For those of you that have developer skills and wish to set up subscriptions on your WooCommerce website, check out how you can integrate and extend the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin. Just remember, in order to do this you must have an advanced understanding of PHP and WordPress development.
The basic set up of WooCommerce Subscriptions is the same as the steps mentioned above for non-developers. However, there are a number of things you can do to make WooCommerce Subscriptions work harder for you:
- Extend the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension through an API of actions, filters, and functions.
- Utilize the action hooks for subscription events such as subscription activation, cancellation, and expiration.
- Format and customize the subscription data, such as the “Sign Up Now” button using filters.
- Take advantage of the various functions for subscription operations such as subscription activation, and get subscription related information such as its signup fee.
In addition, developers can extend the WooCommerce Subscription payment gateways by adding subscription support to the existing gateway extension. This will not only attract new customers to your subscription plans, but will offer an excellent feature your existing customers will appreciate.
Here are the basic steps for integrating subscription support into WooCommerce Subscriptions:
- Register support for subscriptions.
- Process subscription signups.
- Manage subscriptions.
- Process failed payments.
- Handle recurring payment method changes.
- Show your support.
Again, this process is for those with a deep understanding of all things PHP and WordPress development related.
If you are a website owner that runs an eCommerce shop with physical products or services, consider setting up a subscription plan on your website today using WooCommerce Subscriptions.
With this advanced plugin, you will be able to collect recurring payments that not only pad your bank account, but also help to guarantee you a monthly income. And, since WooCommerce Subscriptions is so versatile, you will be able to turn any of your products or services into a subscription in no time. Start making money with weekly, monthly, or even yearly clubs, complete with special deals and discounts that your customers will come to know and love.