Posted on October 16, 2017 | Written by Bryan Littlefield
With the growth of subscription programs, WooCommerce store owners often wonder whether the WooCommerce Subscription Plugin will work for them, or if they need to go to the extra effort of building a custom subscription program. Each subscription model is a little different, so the answer to this question varies depending on the specifications of the program.
When a WooCommerce Subscription Plugin Does the Job
We actually love the WooCommerce Subscription Plugin. It’s a great product and, if it works for you, we can help you set it up, configure it and get it running. At the time of this article, the plugin is currently in its second version with even more features available than the first iteration. A few of the features this version offers are:
- An array of advanced reporting features. You can view a full list of the reports available here: WooCommerce Subscription Plugin Reporting Features.
- The ability for a customer to upgrade or downgrade their subscription or purchase multiple subscriptions at the same time.
- Automatic emails to let subscribers know when their renewal is processed, or their subscription is canceled or expired.
However, the complexity of many subscription programs means that companies often need even more functionality. Many of the clients we’ve worked with have very specific business needs and we’ve found that this plugin doesn’t fit in every single circumstance.
For example: We had a weekly meal subscription service come to us with a complex set of requirements. One requirement included the need to have their entire system hinge on when the customer would come to pick up their meals each week from one of their drive-through locations.
This might sound like a simple request, however, it requires a number of downstream adjustments. One such example was holiday closures, all weekly orders that happened to fall on the holiday needed to be moved automatically to the next eligible day and customers needed to be informed by email of what was happening so there weren’t any surprises.
Customer notifications, opportunities to change or pause that weeks subscription and a host of other considerations and possible user actions pushed the required complexity and functionality to a high level. Because this functionality isn’t covered by the WooCommerce Subscription Plugin, they needed a custom plugin that could provide the needed feature.
WooCommerce Subscription is a great plugin. We can just take you one step further.
What a Custom Subscription Plugin has to Offer
To get an idea of what a custom-built subscription plugin might look like, here are a few of the key features we’ve tailored and applied to the specific business needs of our clients.
Multiple Credit Cards:
The ability to allow multiple credit cards to be assigned to different subscription accounts for the same customers. So, if a customer wishes to use different methods to pay for different accounts, they’re able to assign those methods.
- The ability to reward a long-time subscriber with a gift
- The ability for a customer service member to discount a customer’s next subscription renewal
- Allows the system to award credits to customers based on referrals
Allows customers to add special, one-time products to their subscriptions.
Allows the frequency of a subscription to be changed at any point in the process by customers or by admin.
Custom Email Notifications
The ability to send custom email notifications, allowing businesses to track each step of the subscription renewal process. Some of those emails might include:
- 7- and 2-day reminders that a subscription is about to renew
- Free gift emails
- Gifted subscription emails
Custom Administrative User Interface:
What does this mean? Normally each customer has a set of data that customer service members would like to have readily available. This functionality allows admin to control which information they see based on what data is relevant to their role. This makes the customer service far more streamlined and cost-effective.
Custom reports built for your business needs, including:
- Total amount of new signups per month (or for an extended period)
- Average retention rate
- Total amount of cancellations in a month (or for an extended period)
- Average revenue per order in a month (or for an extended period)
- The average life cycle of a subscription
- Liability Reporting: A reporting tool that tracks the amount of product owed to a client. Meaning, when a client signs up for a subscription for a specific period of time, the reporting tool trackings the outstanding liability (product owed) and adjusts the report as time passes and the liability changes.
You’ll notice that a number of these features address scalability issues that might arise as a subscription business grows, allowing business owners greater organizational flexibility and automating processes that would otherwise have to be performed manually or omitted completely.
Is there a feature you don’t see on the list above? Get in touch with us at [email protected] and we can build it for you!
But wait, there’s more!
We also created a series of articles to help with major questions that occur when you’re starting a Subscription Program. We recommend checking out the following for further information: