How to Create a Subscription Based eCommerce Website on WordPress in 4 Steps

    Akshaya Rane
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With businesses trying to reinvent the conventional shopping model, an ever-so-popular trend is subscription-based shopping website.

The reason why this model is popular is that it is convenient, and on average, more economical for the consumer. The idea behind such a store is that a visitor has to become a member of your e-store, to purchase products. He pays you a fixed amount on a timely basis, in return for the goods he purchases. Think about Netflix, AmazonPrime, Spotify, NatureBox, Dollar Shave Club and many more.

“Subscription Economy (a phrase coined by Tien Tzuo), is a new era of companies and business models.

Take for example the case of a subscription-based grocery store. You can add members on a yearly or half-yearly basis. Depending on the rules set, a member has to pay a fixed price on a monthly basis and is allowed to pick a decided number of items. The package of the items picked will be delivered to the member on a certain date every month. A member is free to change the selected items before the delivery date, but the number of items that can be picked is always fixed.


How Does a Subscription-Based Online Store Work

While Netflix is by the far the most successful example of how a subscription-based business works, let’s take the above example further and explain the actual flow of the use case.

Store is available only to Members

  • When a person lands on your grocery store page, he is shown the range of products you offer.
  • They can search through the store to find if you have the products they need. And can explore the entire extent of all the products on sale.
  • But they have to become a member or login to your store to make a purchase

Members can Customize Products Package

Grocery Bag 2.1.0

  • From the list of products, the member can select a fixed number of products to make a package.
  • It’s similar to adding the products to the cart. But there is no option for individual checkout.
  • The items can only be purchased (or rather subscribed to) as a package, at a standard recurring cost.

A Monthly Subscriptions Package

  • The user can reconfigure the package he creates, before the delivery date (or a few days in advance).
  • Every month the package of the selected items will be delivered, and the user will be charged a set amount.

Creating a Subscription-Based WooCommerce Website

WooCommerce is a free, user-friendly, and widely trusted WordPress plugin to help you set up your subscription based website. It offers every service needed for an e-commerce website. To create an online subscription store on WordPress, here’s what you need to do:

A note before you begin:

To create such a store, start by choosing a responsive theme. You do not want to lose your customers on a mobile device. When looking for a good theme, ensure that it is compatible with WooCommerce, since we will be using WooCommerce to set up our e-store.

Step 1: Get the Foundation Right – WooCommerce and WooCommerce Subscriptions

Use the WooCommerce Plugin to set up your products store. The reason why we choose this plugin is that it provides a lot of options with setting up any kind of store you need. Along with WooCommerce, you would need WooCommerce Subscriptions extension, to create a subscription product.

Using the subscription extension for WooCommerce, you can set the amount which will be charged to the user on a monthly basis.

There are options to cancel or suspend the subscription by the site administrator; users can also unsubscribe or suspend the subscription. If you need a flexible date per-user basis, when the products package will be dispatched, customization needs to be made.

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Step 2: Set up Subscription Options

The WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin offers several setting options to fine-tune your plans and purchase fees. You can set up manual or auto-renewals:

  • Automatic Payment (Automatic Recurring Renewal): A recurring payment is charged without involvement from the customer or store manager. The payment is processed with the payment gateway used to purchase the subscription. This is the most convenient method for you and your customers.
  • Manual Payment (Manual Recurring Renewal): The customer has to pay for each renewal payment, manually.

You can also open up options for early renewals, plan switching, charge sign-up fees, and more.

Step 3: Create a Subscription Product

In our case, each membership level, is a subscription product. Or if you do not have a membership fee, then a subscription plan can be set up for each product (similar to Amazon).

With the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin, you have two new products created – a Simple Subscription product or a Variable Subscription product. You will have to set up a price and a payment schedule (billing length, trail period, and more).

Step 4: Let Customers create Product Packages

To allow customers to alter products in the package, you will need to use a WooCommerce extension.

  • Allow User to Configure Package: The number of items that can be added will be saved in the settings of the plugin. The user will be allowed to choose from the products list, the ones he wants to add to his cart.

  • Create a Shipping Order: When a member has selected the required number of products, the extension plugin will create an order a day prior to the shipment date.

You may also like to read: How to Sell User Customized Product Bundles in WooCommerce

A subscription-based eCommerce website allows consumers the possibility to buy selected products on a timely basis, at a fixed price. Such a website can be set up using simple WordPress plugins and a custom extension. Additional customizations can be made, to create membership levels, or provide holiday offers and deals.

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Akshaya Rane

Akshaya Rane

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