WooCommerce Subscriptions was first released in 2017 as an add-on to the standard WooCommerce package. WooCommerce recently added support for Subscriptions to the Payments tools. The Subscriptions tool is available for an annual payment of $199, and integrates with WooCommerce Payments or other payment gateways like Stripe or PayPal.
WooCommerce Payments is free to download and set up, and site owners pay a fee of 2.9 percent plus $0.30 per transaction. There are no monthly fees to use Payments.
WooCommerce and their WordPress customers benefit
Passive income has been the watchword of many bloggers for at least a decade. WooCommerce may have finally listened. The benefits for them are (at least) twofold:
- More ecommerce sites may sign up for Payments now that it supports Subscriptions
- WooCommerce makes their own recurring income at (almost) 3 percent + $0.30 for every time a subscription payment is processed
Ecommerce sites will also see the benefits of the pairing. Payments includes easy integration of the Subscriptions extension, which means less development work. And sites that previously delayed releasing a subscription product can make their move now.
How does WooCommerce Payments + Subscriptions compare with the competition?
Other ecommerce tools have been offering similar subscription functionality at varying prices and levels of complexity for years. Here are how some of the other options stack up:
- Shopify: Subscription apps are available on the Shopify App Marketplace, but there is no native subscription tool. Some of these apps charge fees for subscription payments. Other apps like Recurring Order and Subscription do not charge fees, but funnel payments through the Shopify payments gateway, where you may get charged per payment.
- BigCommerce: BigCommerce offers several apps for subscriptions and recurring billing you can add on to your ecommerce store. These apps range from free to custom pricing with an array of features.
- WP EasyCart: This tool offers subscriptions and recurring billing through Stripe. This does require you to set up and pay for Stripe services.
Other ways to get subscriptions through WooCommerce include directly through the payment gateway. PayPal Payments Standard with Subscriptions requires the annual purchase of WooCommerce Subscriptions to pair with the PayPal payments tool. Stripe also offers subscriptions, but the software requires a plugin for WooCommerce and some developer time to set it up.
Can WooCommerce Subscriptions replace your pay-for-paywall software?
Probably not. Logistically, WooCommerce Subscriptions isn’t great for cutting off access to content. You can choose to sell a physical, virtual, or downloadable product with WooCommerce, which is great if you want the individual to have access to the content forever.
Limited-time access to a course, a set of videos, or on-site content will require at least some manual oversight to ensure that the only people with access are those who’ve paid. If you’re interested in being able to turn content access on and off at will or—ideally—automatically, you’ll want to use a service like Patreon or Memberful. What you pay in service fees will make itself up in peace of mind and time saved.
Edits: A previous version of this article stated that the Subscriptions extension was made free with WooCommerce Payments. This is not true. Payments users will need to pay an annual fee of $199 to use the Subscriptions tool.