Starting A Woocommerce Subscription Business Step By Step Guide


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Are you looking to open a store that will generate recurring income? Are you thinking about charging monthly for your services? Are you looking to grow your eCommerce store?

Subscriptions may be the perfect solution. Subscriptions are a great way to provide additional products and benefit your audience. They also generate reliable income. They’re also easier to use than you might imagine, thanks to WooCommerce.

This guide will help you to start a subscription company with WooCommerce.

Why should you start a subscription-based business?

There are many opportunities in the subscription industry. Currently, 78% have subscription services. In 2021, the rate of subscription growth will reach 437%.

They are so popular because they are convenient. They are popular because they make it easy to remember to order water filters or cat food. Along with the discounts that often come with a subscription.

They’re also a great option for businesses. Let’s look at some of the benefits that a subscription business can bring to your company.

1. You can count on revenue

It can be hard to manage your business, especially when it involves finances. Subscriptions can be a reliable way to generate income that you can count upon, even though some subscribers may cancel. You can be certain that when you do the books each month, you will make a certain amount.

This means you can have more cash in your bank and budget for growth and other expenses, such as employees, equipment, and possibly even a storefront.

2. Passive income

Subscriptions can be a great way to make passive income depending on what type of business you have. You can even create the products in advance if you sell digital products like ebooks, courses, or music downloads. Customers can then purchase subscriptions without any additional effort on their part.

There will be some work involved, such as customer service, marketing, and releasing new content. However, it is much easier than traditional models, especially when your store grows.

3. Investing in higher returns

Let’s suppose you spend $20 to attract a customer. You might make $10 if they buy it once. You might make more if you invest $20 to acquire a subscription client.

These numbers may look different for each business. The point is that a subscription customer has a much higher lifetime value than a customer who is only a customer for a short time.

Customer retention is also more cost-effective than acquisition. It is five-fold more costly to acquire a new customer than to maintain an existing one. Subscriptions can save you money and generate additional income.

4. Improved customer relations

Subscription customers offer you more opportunities to connect with them and fulfill their needs. They get to know you and your team better. You can also build loyalty by providing consistent, high-quality customer service, great content, discounts, and other benefits.

This will not only be more rewarding, but it will also increase the likelihood of reviews and referrals, resulting in more customers for your shop.

Ideas for subscription products

There are many ways to approach a subscription company depending on your products and business model. Let’s look at some options.

1. Your products in boxes

This is an excellent option for businesses that already have physical products. However, it could also work for those who want to start a subscription business.

These are just a few ways to approach boxes of products that you make:

  • You can sell individual items that customers use frequently. Do you have products that customers use over and over? You can think of dog food, air filters, and vitamins. These products can be offered as subscriptions to ensure customers don’t have the hassle of remembering to buy each month. Northwest Eye Design does exactly that with care products such as eye drops and lubricants.
  • You can also box up similar products. The same can be done with collections. You can sell a monthly maintenance kit, a household cleaning tool, or a snack box. The possibilities are endless. You just need to think of items that both people use quite often and would like to buy together. You can even get super specific. Instead of selling a monthly snack box only, you can sell a vegan, gluten-free, or spice lover’s box. Universal Yums is creative in packaging snacks from different countries each month. Customers can travel the world with food, knowing that there is something in every box.
  • Make meal plans. Consider selling subscriptions to meal kits if you are a great cook. You could create allergy-friendly options, meals that help people reach certain health goals, and kits that please parents and children with dietary restrictions. These can be delivered locally or shipped to customers by a shipping company. Nutrition Kitchen sells healthy meals that help people reach certain macros. Then, they drop them off at local gyms where customers can pick them up based on their convenience.
  • Let them create their boxes. You can let them add products from your catalog to their box, select a delivery frequency and get exactly what you need on their schedule.

2. Cases of carefully curated products

Subscription boxes don’t have to be made by you. You can also source high-quality products and package them for customers. You need to make your company stand out. Your customers might be able to source the same products.

This is the first step to achieving this goal. While it is possible to find everything yourself, do they want to invest the time or money? Consider ways to make your subscription as useful as possible, and even consider offering a discount for subscribers.

You can also make your boxes unique. You can use your knowledge to create each box around a specific theme, such as a San Francisco box filled with locally-sourced products, a watercolor box with high-quality paints, brushes, and canvases, or a box for baby development with Montessori toys suitable for different ages.

Fairy Loot crates boxes specifically for fantasy fans. Subscribers receive a surprise box each month that contains items such as fantasy books, tarot cards, socks, and pins. This keeps things fresh and exciting!

3. Services and Maintenance Plans

Subscriptions are a great way to connect with clients and earn reliable income if you offer services. You can offer a weekly, monthly, or yearly subscription.

  • Yoga lessons or Aerobics Training
  • Consultations for businesses
  • You may also be eligible for insurance policies that cover physical products you sell
  • Services in graphic design
  • Website maintenance
  • Yard care services
  • Sessions of tutoring
  • Music Lessons

The sky’s the limit. Think about what you can give your audience that they will find useful daily. These services can be delivered either in person or electronically.

ReclaimMyID provides a great example. They offer annual subscriptions to identity theft recovery plans. The company registers clients and monitors them for identity theft. If anything is found, they restore the client’s identity.

4. Subscribe to Paid Newsletters

You can make a regular income if you are an expert in your field. Paid newsletter subscriptions are a great way to achieve this.

Let’s suppose you are an expert in investing, meal prep, technology, and fantasy football. Subscribers have the option to pay monthly or weekly for a newsletter delivered to their inbox. The newsletter can include tips, ideas, and the most recent news on your topic. It is easy for them to stay informed about what they love. All they need to do is open the email. This is a great option if your goal is to sell online courses.

5. “Build your own” boxes

This was something we touched on earlier. However, there are many ways that you can give power to your customers:

  • Allow them to choose the sizes and colors. You can offer different options, such as t-shirts and hoodies, or mugs. For example, they might choose a medium t-shirt, large hoodie, and a red cup. This will ensure they are happy with the products and help gift-givers choose the best present.
  • Allow them to personalize their boxes. Let’s suppose you offer a subscription box of chocolates. You might offer dark chocolate, milk chocolate, or chocolate with fruits to your customers. They can create the perfect subscription with the chocolate they love. You can also apply his idea to clothing and coffee.
  • Allow them to add items. A fan club subscription box might be an example. A box could include a tee with a quote from the show or a food item mentioned on the show. It might also contain a pin and artwork. For an additional fee, you could give them the option to add a mug to their subscription.

The Mr. & Ms. Collection provides clothing rental subscriptions that can be customized to your liking. The shopper can choose the frequency and clothing or accessories that they want to receive. A box with items specifically tailored to their needs is delivered to their door. They have the option to rent or return the clothing, or they can buy their favorites at a discounted price.

6. Digital content

As we said, subscriptions do not have to be limited to physical products. You can also find success with digital products. Here are some suggestions:

  • Design assets such as templates and Photoshop brushes can be sold
  • Downloadable eBooks and Guides, updated each month.
  • Make a Patreon Alternative with exclusive music and content for subscribers
  • Create a digital magazine that features monthly or quarterly issues
  • Illustration of an online comic book with regular updates

PHLEARN provides subscribers with access to a collection of digital photography assets such as presets and actions, brushes, and tutorials. If subscribers have any issues, they offer professional support.

7. Memberships

Subscriptions and memberships can go hand in hand, especially when you are creating content or digital assets. You can create anything you want: eBooks, tutorials online, premium blog posts, videos, and more. – and make it available only to members.

Once someone has subscribed, they will get all that content! Access to Facebook groups and forums, one-on-1 help, or other resources can all be included.

TriBreath is a membership centered around breathing. It’s designed to help improve your breathing while you exercise. Subscribers have access to a variety of rhythms and instructional videos as well as PDF guides. They can either pay monthly or once per month.

Another great example is The Freelance Collective. The Freelance Collective has created an online community for freelancers that make it easier for them to connect with clients and find reliable workers. The profile page highlights the work of freelancers, offers tips and support from other members, and public relations designed to help them find clients, and discounts on products related to their work.

8. Donations

Subscriptions are a great way to get donations that you can trust, especially if you’re a non-profit. Supporters may be able to purchase tickets or merchandise, or they could donate once only. You can allow your supporters to make a recurring donation on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. This works regardless of whether you are a school, church group, social welfare organization, or another type of charity.

Priority One Worldwide offers both recurring and one-time donations. You can either choose to support a specific cause regularly or to make a general donation.

WooCommerce: How to start a subscriptions company

WordPress and WooCommerce are great options for creating an online store. Its core is free and offers infinite flexibility. It is also extremely flexible and extensible, so anyone can use it, from the beginner to the professional.

You may have an existing WooCommerce store and are looking to add subscriptions to it. If you are still unsure, read our article choosing an eCommerce Platform.

Let’s now take a look at how WooCommerce can help you set up your subscription company.

This post assumes you have a domain and a host. You can also skip the following steps if your store is already online.

1. Install WordPress and WooCommerce

You will need to install WordPress and WooCommerce if you don’t have them installed on your hosting plan. Many hosts provide one-click WordPress installation — you can see the complete instructions here.

WooCommerce, the eCommerce side of WordPress, provides everything you need for online business. Log in to your website, then go to Plugins and click Add New. Search for “WooCommerce” and click Install Now – Activate.

Next, you will be presented with the setup wizard which will guide you through the initial steps to create your store. You’ll also find many more in the following list.

2. Select a theme

Your website’s design and functionality will be affected by the theme. Some themes include “plug-and-play” templates that allow for you to easily change the content and use a premade design. Some themes offer more flexibility, so you can create any layout or design you want.

You should ensure that the theme you choose works with WooCommerce. While the WordPress.org theme collection offers many great options, WooCommerce.com has both premium and free themes.

3. Make your pages

Your business and the products you sell will determine which pages you create. Spend some time analyzing the information that your audience finds most useful. What are they looking for on your site? These are some pages that you might want:

  • A homepage. Your homepage is the heart of your website. It should contain pertinent information about your business.
  • A Contact page. If you have any questions, make it easy to reach out to you. You might include a form, phone number, email address, etc.
  • A page about you. An About page.
  • A FAQ page. Answer common questions you get from customers.
  • The How it Works page. Cola Gourmet provides a great example.
  • A comparison page. A comparison page is useful if you offer different subscription types. Scan2CAD makes this easy with an attractive table.
  • A blog page. A blog page. This will help you rank higher in search engines for specific terms your target audience might be searching for.

The WordPress block editor allows anyone to create beautiful pages, regardless of their technical experience. Drag and drop blocks, including images, paragraphs and headlines, buttons, and videos, into your page. You can easily edit settings such as color and size and create columns in a matter of seconds without needing any coding knowledge.

4. Extensions should be installed

Extensions are plugins that add functionality to your store. WooCommerce payments are the best option for you if you are located in the U.S. All the benefits of WooCommerce payments are yours. Keep reading for more information! Plus, you can sell subscription products.

The WooCommerce Subscribe extension is required if you need more subscription functionality, or if your location is outside the U.S. This extension allows you to accept subscription payments for multiple periods, send emails to subscribers, notify customers about failed renewals and let them know about upcoming renewals.

You can customize your subscription program according to your needs by configuring several settings. All of this information can be found in the extension documentation.

If you need more functionality, you can also use additional extensions.

  • All Products For WooCommerce Subscriptions: Customers can choose to purchase the products they already own as subscriptions.
  • WooCommerce Members: Provide subscribers access to a library of content like videos, eBooks, and blog posts.
  • A subscription box for WooCommerce – Customers can mix and match products to create a custom subscription box.
  • MailPoet is the perfect email tool to create a subscription for a newsletter. It also offers additional marketing tools like email newsletters and customized transactional emails. What’s the best part? The best part? You can segment your email list by active subscribers to nurture, share important information, and encourage them to buy additional or upgraded products.

Each extension comes with its documentation, which guides you through the installation process. You can rest assured that any person can use each extension, regardless of their level of skill.

5. Subscribe to our newsletter

It’s now time to create your products. This process is very similar to one you have if you are familiar with WooCommerce. This is how to create a simple subscription that includes physical products.

  1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard (WP Admin), and then go to Products – Add New.
  2. In the Product Name box, enter the product name.
  3. Select a category from the sidebar called Product categories or create a new one. This grouping allows customers to find the products they are looking for more easily. If you only sell a few subscriptions, however, they might not be necessary.
  4. In the sidebar box, add a primary image of the product and any secondary images to the Product gallery. For more tips and tricks, see our How to Take Professional Product Photos.
  5. Add a description of your product to the Product Short Description box at the bottom. Consider the most important information your customers will find valuable and the key benefits you offer with your subscription. You can also add details such as size charts or ingredients. In the large text box at the top of the page, below the Product title field.
  6. The rest of the instructions can be found in the Product data box. Select Simple subscription from the dropdown.
  7. Then, add your subscription price. The monthly cost might be $29.99, but this could change depending on the business. You can also choose to pay a sign-up fee or a free trial.
  8. If you manage stock, click the Inventory tab to add a stock-keeping unit (SKU), and inventory levels.
  9. Add the product’s weight and dimensions to the Shipping tab. This may not be necessary depending on how you set up shipping. More details later.

Many settings can be made on a product page, such as upsells and reviews. However, the instructions above will cover the most important aspects. All you have to do now is click on the blue Publish button in the top right corner of the page.

6. Select a payment gateway

Payment gateways allow you to securely accept online payments and transfer each one to your bank account. There are many things you should consider when choosing a payment portal. The most important is whether it accepts recurring payments. 

WooCommerce payment is a simple solution that will make it easy to start. It allows you to accept recurring payments, and you can manage everything from refunds to subscriptions right from your WordPress dashboard. You can also take advantage of features such as multi-currency support, instant deposits, and more.

7. Get shipping set up

You will need to think about how you are going to ship physical products if you sell them. The first step is to select a carrier. This is the company that will deliver your package. These include USPS and UPS, FedEx, and DHL. The countries that you will be selling to should be top of your list. You should also take into account factors such as weight limits, insurance options, and special considerations, like refrigeration.

Next, you will need to decide what shipping methods and rates you’ll offer to your customers. There are many options available, but the most common include flat-rate shipping, free shipping, and weight-based shipping. You might also offer a combination. You could, for example, charge by product weight and offer free shipping to orders over $50

The tools and processes required to deliver your products are called fulfillment solutions. Printing labels, tracking information, and packaging are just a few of the options.

WooCommerce also offers a free tool, WooCommerce shipping. WooCommerce allows you to manage everything from one dashboard. You can also access discounts on shipping rates for USPS or DHL and print labels from any device.

Are you looking for help in setting up the WooCommerce store that suits your needs? Contact one of our WooExperts today! You can be sure that your project will be handled by these full-service agencies.

Tips to run a subscriptions business that is successful

Once your store is open, you can start thinking about ways to increase your customer base and build a lasting business. These are some tips for subscription businesses.

1. Make a customer portal that is easy to use

Your customers should be able to access the relevant information and manage their subscriptions. This is key to keeping them loyal. WooCommerce defaults to making it easy for customers to update their payment method, view past and future subscriptions, and modify the addresses on file. You can go even further.

  • Design a self-service dashboard. Your customers can add new products to their subscriptions. They can also switch between variations of the same item, modify quantities, and pause or reschedule their subscriptions.
  • Add shipment tracking. Subscribers will be able to easily find out when their products will arrive at their door.
  • Add product documentation and other resources. For easy access, include instructions manuals, insurance policies, or any other information in your products.

2. Keep in touch with your customers

Once someone subscribes, your work does not end. It is important to keep in touch with your subscribers so that they can remember you and make the most out of your subscription. This will ensure that they remain happy for many years. Here are some ways to do this:

  • Send a welcome email to new customers. Send a warm “thank you” email to your new customers. MailPoet’s First Purchase email feature automates this process.
  • Post frequently on social media. Your social media accounts can be used to share updates about your shop, useful tips, industry news, and other fun information. This will help you keep your customers’ attention.
  • Send out email newsletters. Send email newsletters to your subscribers. MailPoet makes it easy to do this with its drag-and-drop builder.
  • Email customers on their birthdays. Send birthday messages to customers and maybe even a coupon code! To their email. AutomateWoo handles this whole process for you.
  • You can add videos or posts to your website. Post high-quality blog posts, including videos and written posts, regularly. Don’t write just to sell your products. Provide helpful guides for using your products, interviews with customers, and industry-related information. If you sell STEM toys subscription boxes, for example, you might write a blog post entitled “Ten Educational Games You Can Play with Items Around Your House” that doesn’t promote your products but is useful content for those who purchase from you.

3. Packaging is important!

Nothing can make subscribers feel more special than an incredible unboxing experience. There are many practical considerations beyond fragility and refrigeration. You can think of ways to delight and surprise shoppers. They should be excited each time they receive a box from you.

This could mean giving them a small gift, such as a product sample or a coupon. It could also mean organizing items in a fun and creative way.

4. Offer discounts for longer subscriptions

Offer a discount to people who subscribe for a longer period if you have multiple subscription terms, such as monthly or yearly. You might offer a 10% discount on annual plans, for example. This encourages customer loyalty and increases your income.

5. Encourage loyalty

Loyalty is a key factor in customer loyalty. The more loyal customers you have, the longer they will stay with you and the more likely they will share your business with their family and friends. Although some of the tips discussed can increase loyalty, there are other things you can do.

You might offer a special sale to your most loyal customers. This could be for those who have been subscribers for at least six months. You could also create a rewards program where subscribers can accumulate points for each purchase and redeem them later for discounts or gifts.

6. Marketing to potential subscribers is a good investment

You’ll need to also earn new business. There are many ways to market your subscription business. These are some of the best ways to reach new audiences.

  • Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Display ads on websites your target audience already visits. Google Ads can be used to display PPC ads.
  • Advertising on social media. Advertise on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.
  • Google Shopping Ads. When people search for your products, get them in the Shop section.
  • Search engine optimization. Search engine optimization. Optimize your website to appear in Google search results for keywords that are relevant to your business. 
  • Influencer marketing. Influencer marketing. You can either pay influencers to feature your blog or offer products free of charge. This is a powerful way to reach new audiences through someone you trust.

Your marketing strategy will be different depending on your goals, audience, budget, and business. It will likely include a mix of multiple techniques. For more information, see all our marketing posts.

7. Deliver excellent customer service

Customer service is a key focus if you want to attract long-term customers. First, answer potential and current customers’ questions. This can be done with a FAQ page, blog posts, a live chat box, or a contact form. You should respond promptly, fully, and courteously to all messages.

Also, ensure that orders are fulfilled efficiently and shipped promptly to ensure that they arrive in perfect condition. Make the return and refund process simple if there is a problem.

8. Profit from cross-sells and upsells

You have the potential to convert a potential customer to a new product if you offer multiple subscription boxes or services.

You might recommend a subscription to your dog treats or toys if you have a subscription that includes a dog bone subscription. You might also let customers know that there is another tier that offers instructional videos if you have a membership that includes a library eBook.

You can add upsells and cross-sells to product pages with WooCommerce by default. You can also use the Product Recommendations extension for creating custom rules and adding them to the Checkout and Cart pages.

9. Encourage reviews

Your most powerful marketing tool is word of mouth. Friends trust their friends more than an advertisement online. Referrals and reviews can be generated by great customer service.

You should also encourage your subscribers to write reviews about your products. This can be done by asking subscribers to leave reviews in their subscription boxes, or by sending them a follow-up email asking for reviews. You can even reward customers with loyalty points if they write one.

The WooCommerce Product Reviews Pro extension allows you to supercharge your review form, accept photos and videos from people who use your products, and display “verified customers” badges.

You can rely on your revenue and build a loyal customer base

Subscriptions can be a great option, whether you are already selling products or services through WooCommerce. Subscriptions can help you build a loyal following and generate steady income.

WooCommerce is easy to use and provides everything you need for rapid growth. Woocommerce has created a Subscription Essentials Kit that includes all the extensions you will need to collect a recurring payment, contact customers via email, as well as all the wonderful reviews you are sure to receive.

About the author

Kobe Digital is a unified team of performance marketing, design, and video production experts. Our mastery of these disciplines is what makes us effective. Our ability to integrate them seamlessly is what makes us unique.