WooCommerce Subscriptions 1.4.0 has arrived!

Written by Matty Cohen on September 23, 2013 Blog, Product news.

Today on WooThemes.com, we’re excited to share some excellent news with you all. The latest update to WooCommerce Subscriptions is available today, for sale and as an upgrade for existing WooCommerce Subscriptions purchasers. Brent Shepherd takes us through the newly-added functionality on offer in WooCommerce Subscriptions version 1.4.0, below.

WooThemes Ninja JoyWith this version comes a few highly requested new features, to put more power in both the hands of you and your subscribers. Changing recurring payment methods, upgrading and downgrading of subscriptions, renewal e-mails and more. Let’s take a look at what’s new before covering the upgrade process.

Changing Recurring Payment Method

With Subscriptions 1.4, your subscribers can now change the payment method from their My Account page.

This was by far the most requested feature for Subscriptions, and for good reason. Such a feature allows customers to update expiring credit cards, helping to prevent failed payments or to move to a new payment gateway completely.

To change the payment method is a simple 3 step process where the customer:

  1. Clicks the “Change Payment Method” button next to her subscription
  2. Enters the new payment methods details
  3. Is taken back to her account page once the payment method is updated.
Changing recurring payment method
Changing recurring payment method for your subscription.

If a subscriber’s automatic payment fails, when he logs in to your site to pay for the failed renewal, the payment method used for future payments will be updated to prevent future payments failing.

This feature is supported by the free PayPal Standard gateway, as well as Stripe and Authorize.net CIM. More payment gateways will be adding support soon, the Subscription Payment Gateway document will maintain an up-to-date list.

Updating & Downgrading Subscriptions

Allowing your customers to change subscriptions is a great way to keep them happy, and prevent cancellations by making sure their subscription can suit their changing needs. That’s exactly why Subscriptions 1.4 introduces a new Switch Subscription feature.

You can now allow your customers to upgrade or downgrade between different variations of a Variable Subscription, or any subscription within a Grouped product.

The switch process has been designed in a way that supports the many different ways stores are using Subscriptions. To do that, it allows you as the store manager to decide whether prices and payment dates are pro-rated when switching subscriptions. This makes the system suitable for both selling subscriptions to physical goods and services or memberships.

Allowing your customers to switch subscriptions is off by default, so everything will function just as it does after upgrading. Giving you the time to have a read over the docs, experiment with the feature on a test site, and see if you think it will benefit your store.

Upgrading and Downgrading Subscriptions
Upgrading and Downgrading Subscriptions.

Renewal Emails, the WooCommerce Way

Subscriptions now uses the WooCommerce Email system. That means you can enabled/disable renewal order emails, customise renewal order email subjects/headings and choose whether customers receive HTML or plain text emails.

You can also now customise the renewal order email templates, just as you would for core WooCommerce emails.

Finally, there is a new “Cancelled Subscription” email that you can send to store managers to be notified of a subscriber cancelling her subscription. If you need more emails, the Follow Up Emails extension includes a bunch of subscription related emails.

WooCommerce Emails
Newly-added Subscriptions emails, using WooCommerce Emails.

Performance Improvements

Sometimes the best changes are those unseen. Subscriptions 1.4 introduces a completely new database structure which will massively improve performance on your site.

For example, on a site with 12,000 subscriptions, the new database structure reduced the load time for the Manage Subscriptions screen from over a minute to less than 2 seconds.

These type of improvements may add no new functionality to your store, but they are make Subscriptions sufficiently robust to scale with your growing business. We want businesses of all sizes to be able to rely on WooCommerce Subscriptions.

How do I upgrade to Subscriptions 1.4.0?

WooCommerce Subscriptions version 1.4.0 is available for download on your Downloads tab from your WooThemes account dashboard, directly after purchase (or right now, if you’ve already purchased the product).

Woo Ninja_kicking smallTo upgrade Subscriptions, update the plugin via The WooThemes Updater and follow the prompts. You will be prompted to start the database update process as soon as you visit your site. In most cases, this will be as simple as clicking Update Database.

If you have a large number of subscribers, it may take a while. In testing, around 2,000 subscriptions were updated per minute so you can expect similar on your site. Large sites may also have memory exhaustion issues. The update process is designed to handle this, so just refresh the update screen if you have any problems and the updater will resume without issues.

Always create a backup of your database before upgrading plugins, but especially so before upgrading Subscriptions this time around.
WooCommerce Subscriptions Database Upgrade Screen
Intuitive database upgrades when upgrading to WooCommerce Subscriptions 1.4.0.

Future Roadmap

Subscriptions is one of the most popular and also the largest WooCommerce extensions. It is actively developed and there are still more features and improvements to come. To help you keep up-to-date with the development plans, a new Subscriptions Feature Roadmap has been published on the docs site.

If you want a feature not mentioned there, open an idea on the WooCommerce Ideas site. If it gets enough votes, it will be added.

Buy now $199.00$399.00

WooCommerce Subscriptions

Let customers subscribe to your products or services and pay on a weekly, monthly or annual basis.

Enjoy!

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23 Responses

  1. Dale
    September 23, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    Smashing update! Cheers

    Major kudos for releasing a roadmap. I for one would love to see a roadmap for more of your popular products (e.g. Canvas)

    • thenbrent
      September 23, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

      Thanks Dale! I’ve been sending the roadmap to some customers over the last few weeks to test it out and the feedback has been very positive.

      It can be hard to provide roadmaps because software development is so complex – a new feature may take 10x as long to implement as originally estimated or worse, after starting development, it may prove to be unfeasible (like the Date Sync feature).

      But I know WooThemes are always looking at new ways to improve, so if it continues to work well for Subscriptions, they may introduce it for other popular products.

      • Ryan Ray
        September 23, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

        Definitely.

        I think I can speak for us all here (on both sides of the fence) and say that roadmaps are tricky to do and obviously it’s very hard to estimate features appropriately.

        We also used to have a page for upcoming products, and you wouldn’t imagine the amount of emails we received asking about the released date of those products. Even though on that page we said there was no ETA on the products.

        Regardless, if roadmaps happen to be more manageable (on our side and customer expectations) it’s definitely something we’re open to! 🙂

  2. gruffygoat
    September 23, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    I’ve had some requests from customers to change their PayPal address. So could I offer the above as a way to do so? I wasn’t sure from the above description if they could just select PayPal again and enter a new address or if this just won’t work. Obviously, I can’t change this for them as it’s not a supported feature on the back end. Thanks!

    • Ryan Ray
      September 23, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

      I do believe so. They can change the card (or assuming PayPal account), as well as gateways if needed.

      My assumption is once they click change payment they can choose from any gateway on your site, letting them choose PayPal again and enter new information.

      I’ve not tested this myself yet, but perhaps Brent can double confirm for us. 😛

      • thenbrent
        September 24, 2013 at 1:18 am #

        Confirmed – it is possible to change the payment method from PayPal to PayPal.

        However, if your customers only need to change the address on the subscriptions, they can change the address used in your store. There shouldn’t be any need to change it with PayPal itself.

        • thenbrent
          September 24, 2013 at 1:20 am #

          Sorry, this is the correct docs link.

          • Nathan
            September 24, 2013 at 4:49 am #

            By address, I meant their PayPal email address. I will let my customer know though – thanks so much!

  3. aky007
    September 24, 2013 at 1:56 am #

    Another super update! When is the turn for my product vendor v1.1?

    I am so excited!

  4. Deskpops
    September 24, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    I have a multisite network, but Subscriptions is only activated on one site in the network, so I only have one license. What’s the best way for me to upgrade? It’s not letting me upgrade from the network (I assume because it’s not network-enabled). If I enable it network-wide, it won’t upgrade (I assume because I only have one site license). I manually replaced it on my server and couldn’t find any way to update the database.

    Thanks,
    Jeff

  5. Lyman
    September 25, 2013 at 12:16 am #

    Really great update Woo. This should work nicely when I create a training portal utilizing sensei.

  6. Saje Dennis
    September 26, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    WooCommerce Subscriptions version 1.4.0 is a great update for all customers. All the new features and upgrades will make life easier for subscribers and it was a great idea to introduce the Subscriptions Feature Roadmap and publish it on Google docs.

  7. Matt
    September 26, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    Unless I’ve missed it somehow, my #1 feature request for this plugin is Content Dripping. It has already been in the WooIdeas section for some time now is. I’d be able to use WooCommerce (and Subscriptions) more if support this common staple.

  8. Maire
    September 27, 2013 at 4:32 am #

    Desperately need this plugin to work better with physical products guys.

    Currently it reduces inventory and generates a new order wtih same SKU as though the physical product is shipped each month. We ship once, and then have a monthly hire.

    Can you tell me if this functionality (which should be standard??) will be implemented as we’re currently trying to customise it.

    • farrel
      September 27, 2013 at 10:15 am #

      Why don’t you use the chained products plugin as well? You create two products, one the physical product and the other the subscription and then link them. The person has to purchase both with that plugin. Then the subscription product should keep billing them every month.

  9. J.P.
    September 27, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    Here’s my biggest complaint about the Subscriptions plugin, and it hasn’t been addressed by Woo other than being dismissed as “that’s the way Paypal does it.”

    You can’t use Subscriptions for content/product that is delivered on a basis that is smaller than what it is being billed for. What I mean is, if you have a product that is delivered daily but billed weekly the Subscription plugin either cheats the subscriber or gives it away depending on when the customer suspends.

    For example, let’s say I have a site that gives daily Horoscopes and is billed $10 on a recurring weekly basis. Bob signs up on 9/1/13 and Subscriptions sets his role from Customer to Subscriber. When he logs in WP checks that he is a Subscriber and gives him his horoscopes. Bill gets re-billed on 9/8/13. However, Bob is going on vacation from 9/10 – 9/13 and will not be able to check his horoscope so he suspends his account (which Subscriptions allows). He reactivates his account on 9/14 and lo and behold he gets re-billed on 9/15 (one week after his last billing). Guess what Bob is going to do? He’s going to complain to me that he had to pay for a week’s worth of product but only received 3 days of it.

    Now let’s say Bob gets wise to the way this system works. He sees on his account when his next re-bill date is. Bob then suspends himself on 9/8/13 and reactivates himself on 9/9/13 thereby avoiding the billing. He then is a subscriber for the majority of the week and can see his horoscopes basically free of charge as long as he remembers to do this every week right before his bill date.

    Subscriptions has a sister plugin for Groups. However, this would cause the exact same problem if using this where a suspended plan downgrades you to say, Bronze instead of Platinum package.

    Subscriptions should have the ability to determine the time the subscription had been suspended and add it to the next re-bill. So in the first example above the re-bill date would 9/18 (giving credit for 3 days suspended) and in the second example the re-bill date would be 9/9 (giving him credit for only the day he was suspended instead of waiting a whole week to bill him again).

    Right now, I’m having to go into my subscriptions and manually adjusting re-bill dates to make sure I’m not cheating people out of time or they are not cheating me. Like I said, when I’ve brought this up to Woo they said “Oh, that’s the way Paypal does it so that’s what we’re sticking to”). I hope someone can give me an answer on this. Thanks!

  10. Sean
    October 6, 2013 at 9:53 am #

    I got a “500 Internal Server Error” while trying to update the database. I’m guessing this is a memory issue for having over 2000 subscription orders. Am I the only one? I’ve been refreshing the upgrade page (3-4 times so far) but I still get the error page. I’m hoping that it’ll be fine after a couple more refreshes, but just in case, any help?

    • erickjam
      November 18, 2013 at 12:35 am #

      I’ve had this problem too… I have roughly 3000 subscribers, but have had to refresh at least 15 times so far.

  11. Mitch
    October 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    The switch feature is a great addition!
    But is it possible to switch a plan from the admin backend?

    I’ve enabled the switch on a variable product and the customer can switch it making a new order, but I can’t see how to switch a customer subscription from the admin backend
    I also haven’t found a “switch subscription” function in the source that can do it (found only functions that add parameters to the data passed to a new order).

    Is there an easy method (wp backend or php code) for an administrator to switch a user subscription?

  12. alphadogfood.com
    October 11, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    Mitch, You can switch a plan from the admin. Click on the order and change the information in the “buckets” in the center of the page. Then update/save changes. I find this is a good feature for clients are more inclined to order over the phone and do business the old fashioned way, otherwise I ask them to log in and change it from their My Account Section.

    Awesome product Woo and what a great value. If anyone would like to borrow my Subscription/Payment FAQs, visit alphadogfood.com. Royce

  13. vektoruk
    October 31, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Loving the upgrade – has anyone benchmarked 50k subscribers? Will this still be a 2 sec load time, given the improvements, or could we expect more time added on?

  14. mylooks
    November 4, 2013 at 7:08 pm #

    Does this support all woocommerce gateway plugins?

    I have this in my mind:

    http://woocommerce.com/products/checkout-fi-gateway/

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