A recent McKinsey article on subscription businesses reported that “Collectively, they [subscription businesses] grew more than 300 percent from 2012 to 2018, about five times faster than revenues of S&P 500 companies.”
The article highlights that the subscription model generates a higher average spend, inspires loyalty, and most importantly, provides value to consumers who appreciate the convenience, novelty, and curated experiences offered by subscriptions.
Despite the positive outlook, previous research by McKinsey on subscription e-commerce trends underscores the fact that consumers are quick to cancel services that fail to deliver superior end-to-end experiences.
Focus on Great Experiences, Not Great Subscriptions
Specifically, the research by McKinsey highlights that consumers are only willing to subscribe if they get tangible benefits in return, such as lower costs or increased personalization. The key takeaway is that consumers are looking for great experiences, not great subscriptions.
This is a critical point for subscription business owners. To minimize or prevent churn (loss of subscribers), a personalized experience is crucial. McKinsey’s research reveals that over one-third of subscribers cancel within the first three months, and over half cancel within six, which indicates a troubling gap between consumer expectations and their actual experience.
One way to bridge this gap is to use feature-rich subscription plugins that deliver highly personalized subscription experiences while giving consumers greater control of their subscription preferences.
This brings us to our review of the top 7 WooCommerce subscription plugins in 2022 that will help you scale your subscription business easily and efficiently.
WooCommerce Subscription Plugins vs Extensions
The terms plugins and extensions are often used interchangeably, which causes confusion depending on the context. For the purposes of this article, we will differentiate them as follows for clarity.
- There’s the official WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin developed by WooCommerce to create and offer subscription products and services in your WooCommerce store.
- There are also subscription plugins by external developers designed for the WooCommerce platform, such as YITH WooCommerce Subscription.
- Finally, there are subscription extensions by external developers for enhanced functionality of the official WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin (from #1).
Each option serves different needs, though in general, they are all designed to help you create and manage recurring revenue from your WooCommerce store. We’ll explore each in detail in the following section with our top picks of both plugins and extensions.
But before we dive in, here’s what you need to know about each of the three options:
- The Official WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin. This plugin has been stress-tested by both the WooCommerce team as well as users and their customers under wide-ranging situations over the years, so you know it’s reliable and fully compatible with WooCommerce.
- External WooCommerce subscription plugins. If the plugin is well-designed and properly tested, it would save you from having another piece of software to manage and maintain on your website, as opposed to installing a. and c. for the full range of subscription features you need.
- External WooCommerce Subscriptions extensions. On the one hand, these separate extensions provide flexibility—you can pick extensions that provide just a few added features you need for the moment and upgrade as and when you need to, rather than going for a comprehensive plugin with all the bells and whistles right from the start. However, this means having extra applications running on your site.
The best option for you depends on your business goals, resources, and growth plans.
If you plan to scale your business gradually, a. and c. would give you greater flexibility and value for money over the long run. On the other hand, if you don’t foresee major business changes in the near future, a. or b. might be a better option.
Top 7 WooCommerce Subscription Plugins & Extensions in 2022
As the platform’s own subscription plugin, WooCommerce Subscriptions allows store owners to turn their physical or virtual products and services into a variety of subscription options. Examples include product-of-the-month subscription boxes, weekly service subscriptions, and yearly software billing packages.
Besides supporting over 25 payment gateways for automatic recurring payments and manual renewal payments, WooCommerce Subscriptions includes the following user-friendly key features:
- Add sign-up fees, offer free trials, and set expiration periods
- Set different billing periods to renew subscriptions daily, weekly, monthly, and annually
- Automatic rebilling for failed subscription payments
- Automatic renewal notifications by email
- Offer variable subscription products for flexibility and choice
- Allow customers to choose their subscription schedules
- Allow customers to purchase multiple subscriptions in a single transaction
- Detailed reports for easy tracking of recurring revenue, number of active subscribers, etc, and much more
WooCommerce Subscriptions is a premium plugin for WooCommerce and costs $199 per year.
This powerful WooCommerce subscription plugin by YITH allows WooCommerce users to create unlimited subscriptions for physical products, downloadable products, and services. The plugin offers various subscription options and a high degree of flexibility by allowing consumers to change their subscriptions preferences on their own.
YITH WooCommerce Subscription is available both as a free plugin in the WordPress directory and as a premium plugin with advanced features.
Popular features of the premium version include:
- Offer a trial period to users before starting a subscription
- Ask for a sign-up fee when purchasing a subscription plan
- Synchronize all subscription payments to a specific day of the week, month or year, e.g. the 1st of each month
- Cancel a subscription automatically if the associated order is canceled
- Allow users to pause a subscription for a certain number of times and resume it later; the expiration date will update accordingly
- Let users edit the address for only one or for all subscriptions right from My Account page, and countless other features
The premium version of YITH WooCommerce Subscription costs $199.99 per year.
Subscriptio is a premium subscription plugin by RightPress that allows WooCommerce store owners to sell subscriptions for products such as magazine subscriptions, online memberships, e-learning packages, and any other tangible or intangible products.
A unique feature of this plugin is its automatic subscription process flow that’s triggered the moment a customer purchases a subscription, as shown by the image below:
The plugin allows both store owners and customers to pause, resume, cancel subscriptions and more, though store owners can disable the access for customers if they wish to.
Subscriptio’s top features include:
- Subscription lists and subscription management tools for customers
- Set any billing cycle length and max subscription length
- Charge a one-off signup fee in addition to the recurring total
- Configure subscription trial period of any length
- Ability to purchase subscription and non-subscription products during a single checkout
- Purchase multiple subscriptions and any quantity of each subscription
- Fully compatible with Paypal and Stripe
- Related subscriptions are displayed for each order that contains subscriptions
Subscriptio is available on Envato for $69 for 6 months’ support or $125 for 12 months’ support.
If you’re already using the official WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin and want advanced features for added flexibility and greater user personalization, here are our top 4 picks for extensions.
Let’s start with our very own Subscription Force: the only WooCommerce Subscriptions extension you’ll need to scale your subscription business exponentially.
Subscription Force is currently the only full-featured extension to the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin that increases your recurring revenue exponentially and efficiently by keeping your customers happy and active.
With an ever-growing collection of features in a single extension, Subscription Force optimizes your Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) with thoughtfully designed self-service personalization features. Allowing customers greater flexibility and control of their subscription experience keeps them happier, which ensures that their subscription remains active longer, maximizing your recurring revenue.
Here’s a snapshot of our most popular features:
- Add new products to active subscriptions
- Switch product variations
- Change product quantities
- Pause subscription until specific dates
- Subscribe and save on your first order
- Change subscription frequency
- Delay next shipping
- Buy once or subscribe
- Add products to your next shipping
- Create your own mix & match subscription boxes
- Predefined bundle subscriptions
- Subscription cancelation reason
If you already have the official WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin installed and want to offer your customers the VIP subscribers’ treatment, Subscription Force will help you awe and delight your customers, giving them every reason to stay active and loyal for as long as possible.
Subscription Force is available in a series of bundles, starting from $79.99 a year.
Developed by SomewhereWarm, All Products for WooCommerce Subscriptions offers enhanced personalization features such as:
- Sell any products as a one-time purchase or on subscription
- Offer discounts to encourage customers to subscribe
- Add products to existing subscriptions
- Purchase products in the entire cart on subscription
- Offer personalized subscription boxes with product bundles or composite products
All Products for WooCommerce Subscriptions costs $79.00 per year.
6. Enhancer for WooCommerce Subscriptions
With Enhancer for WooCommerce Subscriptions by FantasticPlugins, users can easily update the subscription price for existing subscriptions to ensure that subscribers pay the current price at renewal, generating additional revenue.
The extension also offers greater control over cancelations with a cancel delay feature that allows customizing the date customers can start canceling their subscriptions, which prevents cancelations just before the first renewal. Other handy features include auto-renewal reminders, expiry reminders, manual renewal reminders, and separate shipping cycles for subscriptions.
Enhancer for WooCommerce Subscriptions costs $79.00 per year.
Here’s a gift that keeps on giving for your customers and your WooCommerce store revenue: a subscription extension developed specifically for people who wish to purchase a subscription product for someone else.
Using Gifting for WooCommerce Subscriptions, both the gift giver and the recipient can manage the subscription independently for the rest of the subscription life cycle.
Customers can purchase subscriptions for their friends or family by entering the recipient’s email address on the product, cart, or checkout pages, and the extension will take care of everything else. Features include on-boarding the recipient with your store, managing shared control over the subscriptions and access to orders related to the subscriptions.
Gifting for WooCommerce Subscriptions costs $49.00 per year.
Whichever option you decide on—whether it’s the official WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin on its own, an external WooCommerce subscription plugin, or the official WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin and an extension—make sure you do a thorough evaluation of the features and benefits of each so you make the best choice for your business goals and needs.