The subscription-based model dates back to the 17th century, popular amongst book and magazine publishers. Today, there’s a subscription service for everyone – from meal kits, meal delivery to the beauty industry. For customers, it’s recreating the feeling of Christmas each month. They’re not sure what they’re going to get but having their favourite brand curate a selection of items is enough excitement.

For the business, recurring revenue can help manage cash flow each month. 

This is where the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin comes in…


This tutorial uses the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin  to enhance the capabilities of WooCommerce.

Get the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin by YITH

The Solution

Do you need a subscription-based model?

Before you start creating a product bundle and selling it for a fee, you need to have your ducks in a row. Consider the following before implementation:

What are your goals?

If you’re creating a subscription because everyone else is doing it, then perhaps you should take a step back. Most businesses use this model to increase customer growth or increase their revenue. Once you determine your goals, you’re able to create a subscription-based strategy that will work for you and your customers.

Do I have the customer buy-in?

Do you think you’ll have enough customers that will sign up for a subscription service? It’s an answer you’ll only really figure out of you take the risk. What you can pre-determine is your best-selling product and piggybacking off this. How do you do this?

Let’s say that you’re in the perfume business and your most popular product is a rose-scented perfume. You have other flower-scented perfumes that you’d like to introduce as well. This leads to the creation of the ‘Garden Scents’ subscription box. Now, you have a customer group that may be interested and you’re introducing them to your other products.

Do you have enough products to offer?

A subscription-based model is most effective if you offer a variety of product. If you have less than three, then a product bundle service may work better for your business.

How to implement a subscription-based model

The main aim of the subscription service is to solve your customers’ pain points. Try the following types of subscriptions:

For the customer that doesn’t have time

Create a subscription service that is tailored towards a quick-buyer decision. Not everyone has the time to leisurely browse the internet. Some people may only have a few minutes before they start working and others have a few minutes during lunch. Have a subscription model that is curated with all your most popular products. Even better, select ones that are highly-rated by other customers. If they’re satisfied, they’ll likely come back and try out all your other products.

For the customer that is uncertain about what to buy

These customers have the time, but they may have little knowledge of your products. For this customer segment, you can also create a similar model to the time-sensitive customer. Create a subscription with your bestsellers and add items that are similar to it.

For the customer that wants to try something new

Don’t forget your loyal buyers! Perhaps they’re looking for something different. Now, you have the opportunity to test a new product. Create a seasonal subscription (instead of monthly) that includes recommendations from other customers or even staff favourites. To sweeten the deal, add a note explaining what the products are and why they were selected. Adding this personal touch will help improve audience engagement.

How to install the plugin

Read this extensive documentation to find out more about the WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin. You can also manually add a subscription:

  1. Go to WooCommerce > Subscriptions.
  2. Click the Add Subscription button.
  3. Add a customer to the subscription. More info below in Add a Subscriber section below.
  4. Add a billing schedule. More info below in Set a Billing Schedule section below.
  5. Add products, shipping costs, and fees to the subscription, following the process described in the Add Line Items section below.
  6. Add taxes, following the process described in the Add Recurring Taxes section below.
  7. Calculate totals for the line items and taxes, following the process described in the Calculate Recurring Totals section.
  8. Set the subscription status, following the process described in the Set Subscription
  9. Status section below.
  10. Create Subscription.