How to Create a Variable Subscription Product in WooCommerce

WooCommerce is more powerful then you may think! There are literally infinite possibilities to transform your WordPress website design to sell any form of products or services. Today, I’m going to show you how to create a variable subscription product in WooCommerce.

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Benefits of a Variable Subscription Products?

With a variable subscription in WooCommerce you can set multiple options for your clients allowing them to customise their order. For each of these options you can set different prices. For example, below you can see different options for a WordPress website design package.

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The user has 4 options to build their WordPress website. Each selection has a different price. The first 3 options changes the setup cost (one off payment) and the last option changes the subscription amount. The subscription can be set to daily, weekly, monthly or annually.

In total for this example there is a total of 180 different variations, which all have different prices. This allows the user to order their WordPress website design to their exact specifications. You will find that users will respond to these options a lot better than just having one option.

This is because the user may not need all these additional options and just need the basics. This will boost conversions as the user will get a better price for their product or service by allowing them to select what they actually need without forcing options they do not need at an extra price.

What Do I Need?

To create a variable subscription product you need 3 things.

  1. WooCommerce (free)
  2. WooCommerce Subscriptions ($199)
  3. Payment Merchant (see below)

The actual WooCommerce plugin is free that provides all the ordering functionality but the subscription plugin costs $199 that needs to be renewed each year to receive updates at $199 per year. The plugin still works fine if you don’t pay the renewal but you wont receive any further updates.

Payment Merchants

You need to be careful about which payment merchant you choose to take you credit/debit card payments as some merchants do not support subscriptions. There are 2 merchants we have used but they all have their negatives. If you have found a subscription merchant thats any good, please comment below.

Stripe: This is the merchant we use for our subscriptions for our WordPress website design orders. As were in the UK it does take 4-7 days for the payments to reach our bank. If you are based in the US, it only takes 2 days to reach your bank. There is no setup fees, the charges are pretty low and the checkout for your customers looks far more appealing than anything we used. Your WordPress website does require an SSL cert to allow payment to be taken on your site.

PayPal: You do get your money in your account on the same day, if not instantly, but PayPal in my opinion is very amateur. This is ok to use if you own a small website without a large amount of payments going through each month. This is because PayPal do the most stupid, random verification processes for absolutely no apparent reason. This will then lead to your account being suspended until they complete their review. This means you cannot take payments! If you can wait a few days for your money, always use stripe.

Step One

Make sure WooCommerce and WooCommerce Subscription plugins are installed and activated.

Within your WordPress dashboard go to PRODUCTS > ADD PRODUCT. Enter your product or service title.

Step Two

Scroll down to the ‘Product Data’ drop down menu select ‘Variable Subscription’. This will allow you to add different prices to the same product/service. 

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Step Three

Now select your inventory and any linked products as you would with a standard product.

Scroll down to ‘Attributes’. Here you can set how the variations are generated to produce different prices. The first option we offer clients to select is ‘number of web pages’. Here we 3 different variables for this attribute (as below).

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To create different variables per attribute it needs to be structured with a ‘|’ between each option, as above.

Try not to add too many attributes as this can get very confusing for your customers. Try and keep the number of attributes to 5 max and max variables of 3-4 for each attribute.

Once all your attributes have been created check the ‘used for variations’ option box only for each attribute. Click ‘Save Attributes’.

Step Four

Click on the ‘Variations’ tab. Now we need to create our variations from the attributes we just created, which will allow us to insert our option prices.

On the second drop down box, select ‘create variations from all attributes’ then click go. WooCoomerce generates a maximum or 50 variations per action. A pop up window will appear notifying you of this. Keep repeating this option until it says ‘0 variations created’.

Once this has been done scroll down and click ‘save changes’ to ensure you do not lose any of your settings.

Step Five

Now its time to add all of our variation prices for each variation. You have tons of price options for each variation as below:

  • downloadable product
  • virtual product
  • stock management
  • back orders
  • variation image
  • one off signup fee
  • free trial (days, weeks, months, years)
  • recurring subscription price (daily, weekly, monthly, annually)
  • Subscription expiry length
  • Sale price
  • variable descriptions

You need to ensure there is a subscription price for each variation. This can be set as zero, which will be shown as ‘free’ on your WordPress website. Failure to add a value in the subscription field will show the option as unavailable to purchase.

It is important to keep clicking ‘Save Changes’ after every few variations you complete so you do not lose any data and prices.

Step Six

To complete your product/service you have all the standard WooCommerce features to complete to make you page look professional and entice customers to make a purchase. These options are:

  • main product description
  • brief product description
  • product categories
  • product tags
  • product image
  • product gallery

Ready To Go Live!

Click the ‘Save Draft’ button in the top right box then ‘preview product’. Go through each of your options and variables on the draft version in your browser. Here you can check errors or missing prices before setting your product live. Go through every variation available to make sure they are working and displaying the correct price.

This step is really important as the worse thing that could happen is someone trying to make a purchase and they cant because you didn’t double check your work! If you find a ‘option unavailable’ error message, find the variation in the edit product page and make sure all the details are filled in correctly. This message usually means that the subscription field has no value.

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