A new version of WooCommerce Subscriptions was released last week, version 1.2.
With it came a bunch of great new features to put more power in the hands of store managers wanting to sell subscription products. We hope this post will help store managers get the most out of these new features.
If you don’t already know, WooCommerce Subscriptions is the recurring payments extension for WooCommerce.
Version 1 was released back in June. That first version did little more than act as a middleman between WooCommerce and payment gateways which could process a recurring payment, like PayPal & Stripe.
In the months since 1.0, we’ve received a heap of great feedback from Woo customers, and inline with that feedback, Subscriptions has begun to move from a simple middleman, to a full-fledged subscription management tool.
The two features in version 1.2 which bring Subscriptions closest to achieving this are:
- Renewal Orders
- Manual Payments
The feature request that came with the most enthusiasm was to have a WooCommerce order created for every subscription payment.
Prior to Subscriptions 1.2, only one WooCommerce order was created for a subscription – the order for its initial purchase. Payment gateways were expected to manage record keeping for all recurring payments. But no more.
This feature sounds quite small, but it has far reaching benefits:
- You can now use orders to manage shipping of subscription products, just as you do one-off purchases. The renewal order will be created with the status of “processing” and once you have shipped the items for that subscription period, you can mark it as complete and the customer will be notified.
- WooCommerce revenue reports will now include all recurring income
- Stock & inventory accounts for items shipped each recurring period
If you’re upgrading Subscriptions from a version prior to 1.2, the upgrade process also provides the option to generate a new order for all the subscription payments.
WooCommerce Subscriptions can now accept two types of recurring payments: automatic & manual.
Automatic payments are charged without any manual intervention by you or the customer. Payment is automatically processed each billing period. Automatic payments are the most convenient payment method for your customer, and have been available since version 1.0.
However, for automatic payments to be possible, the WooCommerce extension for your payment gateway must include extra code for handling subscriptions, and most extension developers are still in the process of adding this support. As a result, the number of available payment gateways for subscriptions has been limited. At the moment, PayPal Standard, PayPal Digital Goods and Stripe are the only payment gateways which support automatic payments, with Authorize.net extensions currently in private beta.
With Subscriptions 1.2, a new manual payments feature has been introduced.
This method involves the customer logging in to your store and manually paying for their subscription renewal. For example, if a subscription is for $100 per year, 1 year after the customer first signed up for the subscription, the subscription will be put on-hold. A new order for the $100 renewal will then be generated and emailed to the customer. Once the customer logs in to your store and pays the $100, the subscription will be reactivated for another year.
Manual payments are off by default and must be switched on under the “Subscriptions” tab of the WooCommerce settings page before payment gateways will be made available.
Manual payments are less convenient for the customer, but they allow all payment gateways to be used for selling subscriptions.
The recurring payment process can get confusing. Especially now that there are two different payment processes. But this new flow chart helps map out the most important steps Subscriptions takes to handle each recurring payment.
Other Great Features
Along with renewal orders & manual payments, Subscriptions 1.2 introduced:
- Subscription coupons: new coupons for sign-up fee only & recurring amount only
- Sales price support for Subscription products
- Trial periods that are different to billing period (e.g. a 2 week free trial a subscription of $10 per month)
- A way to change the next payment date right form your admin dashboard (for payment gateways that support it).
- Search for Subscriptions on the Manage Subscription’s page
- Customers can now reactivate a cancelled or expired subscription via a reactivation link on their “My Account” page
Subscriptions is still quite a young piece of software. It’s been public for less than 5 months and in development for less than a year.
A lot of labour & love continues to go into the Subscriptions codebase and the next 6 to 12 months will see it offer some world class (and even world first) features.
A few teasers for what to expect over the next year:
- you will be able to sell a “Subscription Bundle” with a variety of products combining into one overall recurring payment plan
- customers will be able to upgrade/downgrade subscriptions from your store
- you’ll be able to customise the subscription price description
- you’ll be able to sell products & subscriptions in the one transaction
And much more, as your feedback comes along. 🙂