Understanding WooCommerce Subscription Processing

WooCommerce Subscriptions is a value-added extension to your WordPress website, and you can use it to process subscriptions or recurring payments, which are one of the best ways to increase revenue and cash flow for your site.

Customers must register and create an account to activate a subscription. Once a user is registered, he or she can manage the subscription, including canceling it if desired. Phantom subscriptions may appear if either you or the customer has changed information, but you can delete them in the dashboard. You can also add a confirmation button to verify that the user wants to cancel or suspend the subscription or you can even disallow customer-initiated changes.

Types of Subscriptions

You can accept subscription or recurring payments for physical items, virtual items, downloadable items, services, or memberships. Downloadable items are only available for as long as the subscription is active and paid. They can be delivered immediately or “dripped” after the subscription renews.

The membership option allows you to control access to all or certain parts of your website. You can make selected content and features available only to users who are current and fully paid subscribers.

WooCommerce defaults to products that are digital and downloadable. It only marks a subscription as “complete” if all  items meet those criteria; otherwise, the status remains as “processing.” There is an extension available to mark all subscriptions as complete.

Subscriptions that Require Shipping

If you choose to offer subscriptions of physical products that require shipping, you can add the shipping costs into the subscription fee. WooCommerce shipping options include local pick-up, local delivery, international delivery, and flat-rate shipping. Shipping does not apply to free trials, so if you want the subscriber to cover the cost, you will need to add a signup fee or similar charge. If you choose to ship on a different schedule, you will need to code the shipping and billing changes manually.

How the Customer Gets Billed

You can offer customers subscriptions with non-standard or variable billing periods through the WooCommerce dashboard. One reason to do this is so that a loyal customer who subscribes for a full year gets a discount over someone who purchases three months at a time. WooCommerce Subscriptions displays the prices from the lowest to the highest and considers both the initial cost and the length of the subscription. It is possible to set a two-tiered price automatically, but three tiers or above must be done manually. You can also allow customers to pay for the entire subscription up front with no recurring charges.

Unless otherwise specified, subscriptions are billed by the calendar month so some subscription periods may be 31 days while February is only 28. Customers will be charged on the same day every month. The exception is if PayPal is the payment processor, as PayPal does batch processing of payments and may charge up to 24 hours before the scheduled date. You can also use the renewal synchronization feature to bill all customers on the same day of the month. WordPress sets the default time zone to UTC/GMT. Some plug-ins or extensions can change that, but you can always change it back. If the subscription breaks, use the dashboard to suspend it and then reactivate it.

Processing and Gateways

WooCommerce supports several payment gateways that allow either automatic or manual processing of subscriptions and recurring payments as well as the option to purchase multiple subscriptions.

Recommended Gateway: Stripe.com

Simple to intergrate and no monthly fees. That simple.

A few things to know about Paypal:

PayPal is one of those payment options; unfortunately, PayPal makes charging a signup fee awkward. If you choose to discontinue offering a particular gateway to new users but still process recurring payments, you can disable the gateway on the settings page but keep the plug-in. If a customer pays with an e-check through PayPal, the subscription will remain on hold until the check clears.

WooCommerce can sync with PayPal to process subscription payments, although you do need to configure your PayPal account correctly and be sure that you are using the latest release of WooCommerce. PayPal does not recognize year-long subscriptions and sends notifications that the subscription is canceled as soon as it starts. You can either warn readers about this bug or manually configure all subscriptions. PayPal does require users to register unless you have upgraded your PayPal account for Enhanced Recurring Payments at $19.99 per month.

Choosing a Gateway:

See all Gateways here or watch the video above.

How do subscriptions things get processed?

WooCommerce uses WordPress’s WP-Cron feature to schedule payment tasks, which works very smoothly for busy sites. For less active sites, there are extensions available to ensure that payments process on time.

Discounts and Promos with Subscriptions

You can offer discount coupons or codes for subscriptions, and you can restrict the number of available subscriptions if you have inventory limitations or wish to create exclusivity. You can also send customers emails when their subscriptions are close to expiration.

Inventory Management

WooCommerce’s subscription feature links to inventory management for physical items so that you can better manage stock. This update is an automatic process; however, there is an extension available if you want to disable it. It will not suspend subscriptions when your stock is depleted; a store manager will have to suspend the subscriptions manually.

WooCommerce automatically cancels subscription orders when the parent order cancels, which can conflict with WooCommerce’s Hold Stock feature. You can adjust the Hold Stock time or leave it blank to ensure that your users do not lose out.

Subscription Pricing

If you change the subscription price, current subscribers will not be affected. Changing the price or the product must be done manually. Customers are required to enter payment details even for free trials unless you disable automatic payments when offering free products.

WordPress Multisite and WooCommerce Subscriptions

WooCommerce subscriptions do work with WordPress Multisite. Each subscription stays with the site where the user purchased it unless you use the extension that allows sites to share subscribers.

How to do Subscription Donations

If you want your users to be able to choose the payment or donation amount, they can do so through the Name Your Price or Gravity Forms add-ons which allow customers to type in the desired value.

Check Out WooCommerce Subscriptions and Non-Subscription Products at the Same Time.

If you want your customers to be able to purchase both subscription and non-subscription items at the same time, you will need to enable Mixed Checkout. You can also use a plugin or redirect to send users back to the cart.

You can customize how the My Subscriptions page appears on the account dashboard as well as many of the features in the template.

Know Errors to Think About

Known errors with WooCommerce Subscriptions include renewals not processing with W3 Total Cache and 403 errors on Internet Explorer. Try changing to a different caching plug-in or contact your hosting service to resolve these issues.

Need Help with WooCommerce Subscriptions

Bright Vessel is a certified WooCommerce Development company. We understand what is involved in building out a good subscription product. Click here to contact us with questions, comments, or conversation.

Check out another great post: 21 Tips for WooCommerce Website Design