A lot of WordPress + WooCommerce store owners have one common feature in their wishlist. Receiving an upfront or advance payment for WooCommerce Subscriptions. You too? Join the club! And not only store owners but a lot of customers need it as well. Isn’t it sad that no one has come up with a plugin for that yet? Well, we have.
Being able to pay the entire subscription fee at the time of purchase and receive the subscribed product / service regularly (monthly, quarterly, etc) - is a very common payment method in the online and offline world. Why should the most popular WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin fall short of an obvious option?
So, we thought, let’s start with the annual upfront payment option. The WooCommerce Prepaid Subscriptions extension does exactly that. Let’s dive a little deeper into it…
What are the drawbacks of not having an upfront payment facility?
Oh, there are many. Let’s address them one by one.
You spend money on the premium WooCommerce Subscriptions official extension only to find out there is no option for prepaid subscriptions. Disappointing, isn’t it? It comes as a surprise but let’s accept the reality - the option is not there. The workaround mentioned in the WooCommerce documentation is not very feasible. Because…
Signup fee is not a pleasant workaround
The tweak suggested by WooCommerce is to charge a sign-up fee and set the recurring subscription price as $0. While it may be logically correct, there are downsides to the method. Here are some drawbacks listed by WooCommerce:
- The subscription price will be displayed as $0 / month.
- A renewal order will be generated each month, with a $0 total for the subscription. This order will be visible to the customer on his My Account page and optionally emailed to them each month (however, both the My Account and Email templates could be changed to remove this).
- If customer suspension is enabled and the customer suspends or cancels a subscription that uses this pricing model, they may not receive items for which they have already paid.
- You may need to hide the Cancel button on the My Subscriptions table because if the customer cancels the subscription before the end of the term, no renewal orders will be generated, despite the customer already having paid for those renewals.
Auto-renewal is mostly a no-no for subscribers
“So what if there’s no prepaid subscription? The customers can always go for auto-renewal if they want to avoid the fuss of manual renewal.” NO!
When customers choose to subscribe for a product or service, they commit to your store. But auto-renewal is not something everyone wants to commit to. I personally have either opted out of auto-renewal (which was activated by mistake) or never chose it. Most people think this way.
The reason is uncertainty. What if they do not have the money in the future? What if other expenses come up? What if the product isn’t that good? They might even drop the idea of subscription. Whoa! The auto-renewal just drove away your customer. (Rare but possible).
Prepaid subscription approach sounds good, right?
Customers may consider alternate websites
Let’s say you sell toys online and you have subscription plans on your WooCommerce store. If your website does not offer the prepaid subscription to a customer who wants exactly that, then they would go to a website that offers it. Simple. Unless there is no alternative to the products you sell, people have a lot of options to choose from.
Too many products to manage
Consider you have created a subscription plan for your store. Let’s stick to the toyshop example. There’s a toy-kit that comes with different toys every month. And you intend to keep the plans simple. Say, a 6 months plan and a 1 year plan - both shipping every month.
Now, you need to create two different subscription plans and maintain them separately. While this seems like a small chore, it can get huge when you have many plans like quarterly, half yearly or other custom renewals. The WooCommerce Prepaid Subscriptions extension relieves you of that chore. Just enter the plan details for whatever period for the customer and receive the payment in one go. Hence less maintenance.
- Charging sign-up fee or enabling auto-renewal are not feasible prepayment methods.
- Workarounds are clumsy.
- You may miss YOUR potential customers to another merchant who offers prepaid subscriptions.
Having emphasized the importance of prepaid subscriptions, let’s take a look at the perks of the method.
What are the advantages of having an upfront payment facility?
An upfront payment aka the prepaid subscription option allows you to provide a seamless shopping experience to your customers. In what ways? Here’s a list:
Gift a subscription without hassle
Gifting your loved ones (or for oneself) a useful subscription is a popular practice among the young and the elderly folks. But the payment becomes a trouble in WooCommerce stores when the renewal period arrives. Let’s say you want to gift a monthly magazine subscription for 1 year to your sibling for his/her birthday. There is no one-time payment feature and you end up paying for the gift every month for 1 year.
Doesn’t feel great when the gift expense becomes a monthly bill, right? The gifting experience would have been much better if you could pay the whole amount upfront. That’s the gist of it. With WooCommerce Prepaid Subscriptions, you can offer such hassle free shopping and gifting experiences to your customers.
Increase your residual revenue
Ah! The residual revenue. That’s the best part of subscriptions. You know for sure that your store is going to earn a certain amount this year, or at least this quarter or this month. Usually, there is a chance of customers cancelling their subscriptions before it expires. But with prepaid subscriptions, there is no such thing. They pay upfront and they get what they paid for.
That is some definitive business done. You basically receive the payment even before the transaction ends. How cool is that?
Provide discount for upfront payment
The benefits of prepaid subscriptions are not limited to the residual revenue and great shopping experience. You can set up discounts for people who opt for upfront payment. The results can be awesome:
- An increase in sales.
- An increase in revenue.
- Customer satisfaction.
- Customer loyalty.
Just focus on the quality of products and you’re good to go.
Create nice looking plans
Looking nice is important. “Subscription price $0 / month” is not an example of nice. It’s rather misleading. It may look like a small flaw but we’re talking about seamless experience here. Would the customers feel great about purchasing a workaround? No!
So, instead of sticking to the sign-up fee tweak, provide actual prepaid subscription to your customers.
- Subscriptions as gifts are no more a monthly bill.
- Increase your residual revenue, sales and customer base.
- Provide discounts for customers who pay upfront.
- Run away from non-feasible tweaks.
WooCommerce is a plethora of options and the need of the hour is a prepaid subscription method. In fact, it has been the need for so many years. So, install WooCommerce Prepaid Subscriptions in your WordPress site and get started with the new chapter of your WooCommerce store. And update your wishlist:
♥ Prepaid Subscription / Upfront payment. Check. ✔