How to Offer Subscriptions to Customers or Members on a WooCommerce Site

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WooCommerce Subscriptions is one of my favorite extensions for WooCommerce. The developer behind it is a friend of mine, Brent Shepherd over at Prospress. I have used it multiple times on past membership sites as setting monthly payments for my coaching packages.

I wrote my first post on this plugin three years ago and figured it was time to update it.

WooCommerce Subscriptions Extension

I have written a lot about subscription sites on this blog and have watched the industry grow over the last several years. Recurring income is so popular that you see subscriptions being offered in retail, training, software, you name it. And it’s not going away anytime in the near future.

So let me walk you thought this extension and show you just how powerful it is for your client projects.

The Subscriptions Settings

Once you have installed the extension, you will now have a tab under your WooCommerce settings specifically for this extension.

Button Text

A simple but very useful option. This is not only good because it gives you an option to customize the text in these buttons, but also if you have other products on your site, you can make your call-to-action with subscriptions stand out.

button text for subscriptions


Again, this gives you the chance to assign subscribers to a specific role. Where I might use this is if I have several different subscriber-like roles.

And of course I can do the same for inactive subscriber roles.

subscription roles


This is where the benefits of this plugin are and the recurring payments. By default, most store owners won’t want the manual option compared to the auto-renewal. Giving customers the need to go in and renew manual will likely end up with more people canceling their subscriptions. So unless there is a specific reason to use this option, it’s there.

But the option to give subscribers the ability to renew early is something your client may want to consider. I know there have been times I did this on subscriptions I have and there is often a reason someone may want to do it while they are thinking about it.

subscription renewals


Another great option is if you have different variations of subscriptions where customers can either upgrade or downgrade. In these settings you can easily allow people to switch to another subscription, hopefully upgrading to the next level. You can allow them to switch between Subscription Variations, Grouped Subscriptions, or both.

switching subscriptions

Sychronisation (Prorating)

This is a useful feature if you want subscriptions to renew on specific days and whether you will offer prorating or not.

prorating subscriptions

And if you do choose Never (charge the full recurring amount at sign-up), you are given a field for the sign-up grace period.

recurring prorates


Here are a few additional settings that might come in handy. For example, you might have subscriptions where it makes sense to give a subscriber an option to have multiple subscriptions. In other cases, not so much. Also, the ability to provide drip downloadable content could be be useful.

miscellaneous settings

Payment Gateways

Once you have activated and set up your payment gateways, they will appear here and you will see which are set up for recurring revenue. In this example it is obvious from the choices that PayPal would be the only one.

payment gateways for subscriptions

As you can see, no payment gateways capable of processing automatic subscription payments are enabled. If you would like to process automatic payments, we recommend the free Stripe extension or Woo Payments.

Payment gateways which don’t support automatic recurring payments can be used to process manual subscription renewal payments.

You can check out the gateways that support automatic subscription payments over on WooCommerce.

Subscription Coupons

You will also be able to take advantage of coupons that come with WooCommerce. As you can see here, the option for either a flat or percentage discount on both sign-ups and recurring fees.

coupons and subscriptions

Email Notices

Under your WooCommerce Settings > Emails you will find several different emails that are related to the subscription extension.

subscription email notices

Setting Up a Product Subscription

With subscriptions, you have the option of Simple Subscription and Variable Subscription

Simple Subscription

As you can see there are several options here for how you can control your subscription price. The drop down menu gives you several variables for the number of days, weeks, months or years, as well as options for expiration by number of months. Sign-up fee is optional if different than the subscription fee and setting a free trial or a sale price is easy to do.

 creating a simple subscription

Variable Subscriptions

These are very similar to setting up other variable products, which you are either familiar with having used WooCommerce, or you can learn more about here. But as you can see here some fields are unique to subscriptions.

variable subscriptions


In the Advanced tab you will find one specific setting for subscriptions that will let you allow a single customer to have limits.

Managing Your Subscriptions

It is easy to manage your subscriptions as you start acquiring them. Each subscription can be opened up like an order and you will have all the data you need for viewing any single subscription.

managing your subscriptions

Extend Your WooCommerce Subscriptions

This extension does a lot. And the requests to add more features are an ongoing effort through their support. But there are many ways you can add flexibility to your subscriptions through the extensions out here. You may need to give customers more options such as:

  • Skip Next Shipment
  • Ship Now
  • Change Next Payment Date
  • Change Frequency
  • Edit Existing Subscription
  • Add Products to Existing Subscription
  • Edit Product Quantities in Existing Subscriptions

Of course you can code this in, but to make it easier for your clients to make changes, there is an extension that will do the trick for you called Toolbox For WooCommerce Subscriptions.

Also, there are these two extensions that will extend subscriptions.

WooCommerce Subscription Downloads

What if your client could offer downloads to anyone who buys a subscription on your WooCommerce-run site? It could be a special offer, something free, or downloads they are already selling on your store.

This extension doesn’t make downloads only available to subscribers, but they can be viewed as individual products on your online store. You can read my post on it here.

Offer Your Customers to Give a Gift of Subscriptions

Give site visitors the opportunity to gift a subscription to a friend, relative or colleague. Working with the popular WooCommerce Subscriptions extension, it allows both the person who purchased it and the recipient to share the subscription for the duration of it. You can see my post here.

So if you need to set up recurring payments with WooCommerce Subscriptions, this is the option I recommend. As you can see it has a lot of features and easily lets you control subscriptions. Learn more by clicking here.

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