What is WooCommerce Subscriptions? (The Best Subscriptions Plugins)

If you’ve got a WooCommerce store set up and ready to sell, you may be wondering how to expand your customer base and offer more as your business grows. 

If you run your own e-commerce business, some of the key growth levers are recurring customers, well-timed discounts, and selling in bundles. These offers give you the power to expand your revenue stream and build an even more engaged customer base. 

This is where WooCommerce Subscriptions plugins can make a world of difference.  

Adding these plugins to your WooCommerce site is arguably the best way to offer your customers things like memberships and access to premium content, all while helping you set up a sales strategy that retains more customers and generates a strong revenue stream for your business.

In this article, we’ll talk about what the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin is, the benefits of adding subscriptions to your site, and the top four plugins available today. 

FYI: This article is part of our WooCommerce series that covers how to set up WooCommerce with WordPress and the plugins, integrations, and software you can leverage to transform your WordPress site into a fully-fledged, powerful e-commerce store that drives revenue.

Stay tuned for more at the end of the article.

What is WooCommerce Subscriptions?

WooCommerce Subscriptions is a premium plugin for WooCommerce, a popular e-commerce platform built on WordPress. This plugin allows you to sell products and services with recurring payments, enabling you to create and manage subscription-based products and services. It’s especially useful for businesses that operate on a subscription model, such as online memberships, monthly product boxes, content subscriptions, and more.

Although WooCommerce doesn’t support the recurring payment business model out of the box, you’ll have the option to add subscription plugins to your site afterward. We’ll talk about this a bit later.

And if you’re just getting your business and website up and running, don’t shy away from offering your customer base a subscription trial. It’s not just for one type of business. Many types of businesses can benefit from offering a subscription offer to their customers. The WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin just so happens to be one of the best ways to implement this functionality.

 The key features of WooCommerce Subscriptions include:

  • Recurring billing: Automates the process of billing customers on a regular basis (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, etc.) for subscription products.
  • Flexible subscription plans: Allows the creation of various subscription plans, including different billing intervals, free trials, sign-up fees, and more.
  • Multiple payment options: Supports numerous payment gateways to handle recurring payments, including PayPal, Stripe, and others.
  • Customer management: Provides tools to manage subscribers, including the ability to upgrade or downgrade subscriptions, change payment methods, and handle failed payments.
  • Subscription management: Lets customers manage their own subscriptions through their account, including pausing or canceling subscriptions.
  • Synchronization: This feature allows you to sync subscription renewal dates to a specific day of the week, month, or year.
  • Detailed reporting: Offers detailed reports and insights into subscription performance, including revenue, churn rates, and more.

Why add WooCommerce Subscriptions to your WordPress site?

There are a handful of benefits to adding WooCommerce Subscriptions to your WordPress site. Not only does it automate the billing process and remove the burden of manually invoicing your customers every month, but it also results in fewer payment delays and produces a consistent flow of cash. 

Think of big brands like Hello Fresh and Dollar Shave Club that run on a subscription model. Both e-commerce businesses are majorly successful and have stood the test of time. If you’re still not sold on implementing a subscription model for your business, let’s look at the host of other benefits you can expect with WooCommerce Subscriptions.

The benefits of installing the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin include:

• Seamless integration: The plugin integrates smoothly with the existing WooCommerce setup and other WordPress plugins.
• Increased customer lifetime value: Subscriptions often lead to longer-term customer relationships, boosting overall customer lifetime value.
• Your customers have access upfront: Provide free trials of subscription-based digital or physical products and services to your customers.
• More predictable income: Generate trouble-free recurring revenue with recurring payments from users.
• Efficient payment handling: Manage recurring payments seamlessly through supported payment gateways.
• Customization: Offer various billing intervals (daily, weekly, monthly, yearly), free trials, sign-up fees, and different pricing tiers to suit diverse customer needs.
• Self-service options: Allow customers to manage their subscriptions, including upgrading, downgrading, pausing, or canceling, from their accounts.
• Access to insights: Provide detailed reports on subscription performance, including metrics like revenue, churn rates, and customer demographics.

By leveraging these benefits, businesses can enhance their operational efficiency, improve customer satisfaction, and achieve sustainable growth through a reliable subscription model. 

The top four subscription plugins for WooCommerce

When it comes to selecting the right subscription plugin for your business, you have a few choices, both paid and free. Let’s talk about the four most downloaded plugins and why online store owners love them.

1. WooCommerce Subscriptions (paid)

As we’ve highlighted already, WooCommerce Subscriptions is an extension built by the WooCommerce team that allows you to create and manage subscription products and create recurring payments on your site. It’s the easier method and typically recommended for most WooCommerce store owners. 


Price: $23.25/month billed annually at $279.00
Active downloads: 90k+

With the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension, you can create monthly subscription boxes for digital and physical products, offer yearly software packages, and more. It also allows your customers to sign up, pause, suspend, cancel, and change their subscription tier, helping them manage their preferences and take control over what they’re signing up for. 

Key features of the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension include:

• 25 payment gateway integrations like PayPal, Stripe, and more
• Automatic rebelling on failed subscription payments, reducing lost revenue
• Manual renewal payments
• Automatic rebelling on any failed payments
• Automatic invoices and receipts
• Advanced reporting and analytics to track subscription metrics

Plus, you can offer several subscription types based on your customers’ needs including weekly subscriptions, annual billing packages, free trials, and product of the month. While this is certainly not a free option, it’s one of the most powerful subscription tools available and worth the money if you’re serious about the subscription business model.

Click here to learn more and download the extension.

2. Subscriptions for WooCommerce

Another popular plugin is Subscriptions for WooCommerce. It’s a WordPress plugin that allows you to offer subscription-based products on your WooCommerce store. With the plugin, you can specify subscription products and set up subscription frequency and expiration dates for those particular products. This allows you to manage your offerings at a more granular level.

subscriptions for woocommerce plugin

Price: Free version, Pro versions (1 site plan for $109/year, 5 site plan for $269/year, 10 site plan for $529/year)
Active downloads: 9,000+

Plus, with the Subscriptions for WooCommerce plugin, you collect revenue from different product types like e-commerce products, services, online courses, and more.

Key features of the Subscriptions for WooCommerce plugin include:

• Free trials
• Email notifications for subscription renewals
• Automatic retries for failed payments
• Compatibility with payment gateways like WooCommerce Payments, Braintree, and Stripe
• Integrated WPS PayPal payment gateway
• Compatible with the WooCommerce Products Bundles plugin, so you can offer bundled subscription packages
• Automatically generate subscription error logs, troubleshooting your subscription process

Plus, customers will receive notifications about their recurring subscriptions on both the cart and checkout pages, enhancing transparency and providing clarity regarding the total amount, tax details, and renewal period. This makes management easier for recurring subscriptions during the checkout process and fosters trusted relationships between you and your customers. 

Click here to learn more and download this plugin. 

3. YITH WooCommerce Subscriptions 

YITH WooCommerce Subscriptions is another plugin option that comes free or as a premium version if you need access to even more features. With the freemium version, you can create subscriptions for digital and virtual products like podcasts, courses, videos, and more.

YITH woocommerce subscription

Price: Free version, premium version ($199.99/year)
Active downloads: 25,000+

If you choose the premium version, you have access to additional features like creating manual subscriptions and allowing payment through credit cards.

Key features of the YITH WooCommerce Subscription plugin include:

• Ability to create a subscription manually to handle cash payments
• Scheduled delivery of subscription products
• A detailed dashboard of subscription reports and analytics
• The power to export CSV files of subscription data
• Compatibility with payment gateways like Stripe, Amazon Pay, PayPal, and more
• Provides options on how to handle failed payments, e.g., retry a certain number of times and then suspend subscription for a given period

You have flexibility with the YITH WooCommerce Subscription plugin. For example, you can give your customers the chance to try out your products with a free trial period. By allowing them to test before committing, you can see conversions increase by as much as 56%. 

Plus, with this plugin, you’ll have the opportunity to sell to your most dedicated customers. Customer acquisition is one of the most important factors in driving your business. After all, attracting new customers is 5x more expensive than retaining your existing ones. When you offer a subscription product, you can cut costs and increase revenue through targeted upsell strategies.

Click here to learn more and download the plugin.

4. SUMO Subscriptions

Last but not least is SUMO Subscriptions. This plugin allows you to create simple, variable, and grouped product subscriptions from your existing WooCommerce shop. Plus, SUMO gives you the option to offer pro-rated subscription amounts as well as the ability for both store owners and users to change their renewal frequency.

sumo subscriptions

Price: $49 for a regular license, $490 for an extended license
Active downloads: 4,000+

When you install SUMO, you can choose to have an additional 12 months of support for an additional $16.50. 

Key features of the SUMO Subscriptions plugin include:

• Works with most WooCommerce-supported themes
• Built-in Stripe patent gateway for automated payment renewal
• Integrates with PayPal, enabling automatic subscription renewals for any payments made with a credit card
• Always compatible with WooCommerce and WordPress updates
• Reliable support with a fast response time
• Subscriptions can be set to manual renewal modes if automatic renewal is canceled
• Ability to create multiple subscriptions in a single checkout

You can also get a free trial of the SUMO Subscriptions plugin if you want to try it out before you decide to set it up on your WooCommerce store.

Click here to learn more and download the SUMO plugin.   

Improve customer retention with Recurring Payments

One of the most important facets of your online business is retaining your customers. But this can sometimes feel next to impossible with the amount of noise on the internet today. The competition is fierce.

Customers want a personalized experience with brands and to be engaged with them like humans. Understanding who they are and what motivates them is the key to this, and collecting customer data makes this possible. 

Recurring Payments gives you the power to sync subscription information from a supported e-commerce store or integration to the contact records in your ActiveCampaign account. Once this data syncs, you can use it in automations to increase customer engagement with reminder emails, upsell opportunities, and more.

Recurring Payments supports WooCommerce, PayPal, and API-connected e-commerce stores.

If a contact purchases a subscription from you through your WooCommerce site, their data, including subscription data, will sync to your ActiveCampaign account. The subscription data will then display on synced contact records in the “Recurring Payments” widget.

recurring payments in activecampaign
Easily keep track of your subscriptions with ActiveCampaign Recurring Payments.

So, what does this mean? With Recurring Payments, you can segment your contacts based on recurring payment data and send personalized email, SMS, and digital marketing campaigns to delight your customers and drive sales. 

ecommerce automations activecampaign
Recurring Payments doesn’t just help you understand your customers, it gives you the opportunity to know what additional products and services they’d be interested in.

E-commerce and automation work in lock step to make it easy for customers to get more of what they love. Recurring Payments improve satisfaction and drive lifetime customer value. Plus, by sending them relevant email content, payment support reminders, and 1:1 follow-ups, you ensure every subscriber feels valued.

Click here to learn more about ActiveCampaign’s Recurring Payments.

Over to you

Subscriptions plugins enable online store owners to offer more to their customers while simultaneously driving additional revenue. They also give your customers the power and flexibility to choose the payment options they’re using, improving the overall customer experience.

We hope this article helped you understand the benefits of offering subscriptions to your customers and gave you a better idea of the plugin/extension that will work best for you and your WooCommerce store.

If you’re ready to see the benefits of pairing email marketing with your e-commerce business, sign up for a free trial of ActiveCampaign today.

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