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How Do Recurring Orders Work In WooCommerce?

Looking for ways to enable WooCommerce recurring orders on your store? You should be. After all, more and more businesses are pivoting to recurring revenue models, thanks to the predictability they bring. By 2025, recurring revenue streams are expected to drive about 20% of the revenue of B2C vendors. And about 50% of B2B revenue already comes from recurring sales.

If you, too, are looking to move toward the subscription business model or add subscription income streams to your current setup, now is a good time. And you’re in luck, because you have many options to convert your regular sales into subscriptions on your WooCommerce store. 

In this article, we’ll see how WooCommerce subscription plugins work to bring recurring orders to your online store and convert your one-time shoppers into subscribers and lifetime customers. But before we see how these different WooCommerce plugins let you create, manage, cross-sell, upsell, and automate subscriptions for your products and services, let’s see how a WooCommerce recurring order works.

How does a WooCommerce recurring order work?

A WooCommerce recurring order is one that gets placed, paid, and processed automatically on a set schedule (that you or your customers determine). 

Because WooCommerce doesn’t offer recurring orders by default, you need to install a WooCommerce subscriptions extension or plugin to enable a WooCommerce recurring order on your store.

WooCommerce subscription plugins help you add a subscription option to all your products and services so your users can subscribe to them instead of getting them as one-time purchases. They help you convert a regular WooCommerce sale on your store into a WooCommerce recurring order by putting its billing schedule, payments, and processing schedule on autopilot. 

WooCommerce subscription plugins automatically renew all the products or services that you sell as subscriptions, without you or your customers having to do anything. 

At the heart of a successful subscription business lies a robust subscription solution that works 24*7 to automate its repeat orders, payments, and the backend processing. In the case of WooCommerce, this solution is a WooCommerce subscription plugin like Autoship Cloud

Selecting a subscription plugin to enable recurring orders on your WooCommerce store

Before we see a few of the best options to help you sell subscriptions on your WooCommerce store/website, let’s go over five key considerations to keep in mind when evaluating a WooCommerce subscription plugin.

Is it in line with your marketing strategies?

As a subscription-based business, your subscription experience is a key part of your marketing mix. If offering flexibility to your customers is your marketing goal, then your subscription plugin should support it. For example, if you run an online supplies store, you might want to let your users set up a daily schedule for ordering items like milk and a more customized subscription schedule for other supplies. Your subscription plugin should allow multiple ongoing recurring orders.

Not just that, if a customer will be out of the city for a week, they should be able to pause their already scheduled orders. Or edit them as they’re due for delivery if their needs change. 

Likewise, even D2C vendors have very peculiar subscription needs. If you’re one, you might want to let your users pause their subscriptions as they please, because a pause is better than a cancel.

Likewise, even B2B businesses have specific needs from their subscription delivery. As a B2B business provider, you don’t just need to offer different recurring billing models but also provide value-based discounting. Ideally, your subscription plugin should come baked with tools to offer discounts and coupons. Coupons are just as crucial for B2C vendors as well.

Marketing strategies vary greatly based on the industry. Your subscription plugin should support them.

How easy is it for you and your customers to use?

One key reason that businesses go with a WordPress-based subscription management solution like Autoship Cloud over SaaS alternatives like Chargebee is that they want to streamline and simplify their entire scheduled delivery process. 

Therefore, evaluating a plugin for its ease of use is crucial. If you want to do this, check out how quickly you can set up your plugin and launch new subscriptions for your products and services using your preferred billing model(s). Get a sense of the plugin you’re considering by taking advantage of the free trial periods or money-back guarantees.

Also, your subscription plugin shouldn’t just make creating, managing, and processing subscriptions easy for you but for your customers as well. Your customers should be able to manage their subscriptions easily via their accounts without having to contact you.

What level of customization does it offer?

Different recurring business models have different scheduling needs. The “Subscribe and Save” standard subscription option that most subscription plugins offer isn’t enough for many scenarios.

Take a meal delivery store, for example. Such a store’s recurring order needs are more complex. 

When evaluating WooCommerce subscription extensions, find out if you can customize its standard configuration to create something custom.

Does it offer good value for money?

The plans for WooCommerce subscription plugins vary greatly:

A WordPress subscription plugin like Autoship brings world-class subscription selling to your business for just $49/mo. This plan supports 50 recurring subscriptions. So you’re getting charged just $1 for a subscription. In contrast, YITH WooCommerce subscription sells for $199/year, but it’s not an end-to-end subscription solution. Plus, you lack payment gateway integrations like Authorize.net among others. 

To find the plugin that offers the best value for money, first identify the plans in each that offer all the features you need. Next, compare them side by side to find the perfect one that’s within your budget.

Does it offer additional features like data analytics, email notifications, integrations, etc.?

A subscription business has many moving parts. So your subscription plugin needs to offer more than the basic logistics. Communications, for instance, are a vital part of subscription billing. A subscription billing solution must support automatic email notifications to users about their next and upcoming scheduled payments.

Integrations are another critical feature to look for in a WordPress subscription plugin. Take shipping, for example. In the scheduled commerce business model, you need to be shipping all the time. That’s why integrations with shipping solutions are an essential. 

Likewise, consumables and other B2C physical products can quickly go out of stock. When a subscription plugin offers good integration with your inventory, it can automatically remove unavailable products from ongoing subscriptions.

Another core part of subscription management is data analytics as it helps you diagnose your subscription business’s health. And so your subscription plugin should offer data like your total revenue, customer metrics like lifetime total value, your best-selling subscription products, and more. 

Now that you know what to look for when choosing a plugin to sell subscriptions on your WordPress website, let’s look at the five best recurring order WooCommerce plugins.

The top five WooCommerce subscription plugins to convert a simple order on your store into a WooCommerce recurring order

Autoship Cloud

Selling Amazon-like subscriptions on a WooCommerce store with Autoship Cloud

Powered by the robust recurring commerce engine QPilot, Autoship Cloud is an easy-to-use WooCommerce subscription plugin that lets you sell subscriptions on your WooCommerce-WordPress website. Autoship Cloud is easy to configure; your subscription upsells can be up and running on your product/product pages within a day. 

Key features:

  • Lets you add an Amazon-like “Subscribe and Save” option to all your physical products (from consumables and replenishment products to curated subscription boxes).
  • Adds an intuitive Amazon-like subscribe option to your product and cart/checkout pages for enabling subscription upsells.
  • Allows customers to customize their delivery schedules entirely by themselves.
  • Lets users access their subscription details on their accounts page and also edit subscriptions as needed.
  • Facilitates customer email notifications over the entire subscription lifecycle via Sendgrid.
  • Comes with sales tools like “upsell links” that let users add products/services to their upcoming scheduled orders with a single click.
  • Allows you to combine offers like free shipping with subscription options.
  • Supports percentage discounts (on the subtotal value, shipping costs, product prices), flat-rate discounts, and recurring discounts (for a fixed number of renewals or indefinitely).
  • Offers incentivizing options like targeting loyal shippers with personalized coupons.
  • Brings inventory forecasting data, customer metrics, event logs and revenue insights right to your WordPress dashboard.
  • Integrates with all top payment gateways (Authorize.net COM, PayPal, Stripe, etc.) to make your automatic recurring payments function smoothly. 
  • Seamlessly syncs with your existing inventory; Autoship Cloud removes the out-of-stock items automatically from the scheduled orders.  
  • Supports one-time purchases and auto-ship items in the same cart & checkout. 
  • Integrates with ShipperHQ (and via it with over 50 global carriers) to offer your customers the best shipping rates
  • USPS integration, and also supports flat rates and table rates

Pricing: Autoship plans start at just $49/month. Find the WordPress plugin here.

WooCommerce Subscriptions

WooCommerce Subscriptions is WooCommerce’s official subscription extension. It’s an easy-to-use subscription plugin that lets you sell your products and services as subscriptions. WooCommerce Subscriptions supports a wide range of use cases right from simple recurring physical and virtual products/services sales to offering free trials and variable subscriptions.

Key features: 

  • Lets customers choose their own billing schedules, upgrade, downgrade, and even cancel their subscriptions.
  • Integrates with more than 25 payment gateways, which means users can pay via their preferred method whether it’s paying with credit cards or PayPal. 
  • Supports percentage discounts on the cart or product value and recurring discount
  • Supports both automated billing cycles and manual renewals. 
  • Offers intelligent retries if renewals fail.  
  • Comes with email notification notifying you and your customers when renewals have been charged. 
  • Offers detailed reporting on renewal metrics like your recurring revenue and the number of active subscribers. 

If you go with this WooCommerce subscription extension, be prepared to invest in a few more addons. For example, you might need the All Products for WooCommerce Subscriptions addon if you want to use WooCommerce Subscriptions to bulk add subscriptions to your existing products. 

Likewise, you’ll need the Enhancer for WooCommerce Subscriptions plugin to enable auto-renewal emails that your users receive before they’re charged.


You will need to create and maintain separate products on your WooCommerce backend to support subscription products.

Sooner or later, you’ll have to buy more addons or plugins to add the functionality you need to run your subscription business but you don’t get by default with WooCommerce Subscriptions. So costs can add up fast with this one.

Pricing: WooCommerce Subscriptions sells for $199/year.

YITH Subscriptions

Enabling WooCommerce recurring orders with YITH

YITH offers a wide range of WooCommerce plugins and extensions that helps store owners maximize their sales and revenue. This plugin is YITH’s subscription solution that lets you sell subscriptions on your eCommerce store. 

Key features:

  • Lets you easily create subscription plans for your virtual and physical products or services.
  • Works seamlessly with the other WooCommerce plugins from the YITH family
  • Offers automatic cancellations if payments fail.
  • Retries multiple times to collect failed subscription payments.
  • Makes analysis easy with detailed reporting on key metrics, including the net sales, the number of renewals, MRR, and the number of active and inactive subscriptions.
  • Allows users to pause (and resume) their subscriptions for a limited number of times; You set this limit.
  • Supports email notifications about updates to the status of the subscriptions to customers and admins.
  • Lets users resubscribe, upgrade, and downgrade their subscriptions from their account page.
  • Offers easy customization options to brand your subscription experience.
  • Lets you offer various offers to subscribers.
  • Allows you to collect a signup fee to cover admin costs related to a subscription.

If you’re already using the YITH suite of plugins, this might be a good option for powering your subscriptions. While YITH is a great plugin, one of its biggest limitations is that it supports very few payment gateways. The shipping logistics can also be more streamlined.

Pricing: YITH offers a free version. Its premium plan costs $199/year. 

Subscriptions For WooCommerce (WooCommerce Subscriptions Pro)

Selling subscriptions on a WooCommerce store with Subscriptions for WooCommerce

Subscriptions for WooCommerce is yet another WooCommerce subscription plugin that helps you increase your recurring and residual revenue. With Subscriptions for WooCommerce, you can set up simple and variable subscriptions on your WooCommerce store and convert your regular online store into a complete WooCommerce subscription-based commerce business.

Key features: 

  • Lets you launch subscription programs for all your physical and virtual products and services.
  • Supports fixed and variable product/service subscriptions.
  • Allows customers to subscribe to multiple recurring subscriptions, upgrade or downgrade their subscriptions, and even make cancellations.
  • Lets admins alter the start and end dates of subscription plans when needed.
  • Offers automated retries for failed renewals. 
  • Supports coupons and discounts to boost user loyalty. 
  • Supports emails over the entire subscription lifecycle, including subscription renewal reminder emails before the automated billing.

Subscriptions for WooCommerce is a solid subscription plugin for WooCommerce. It supports very few payment gateways, though.

Pricing: Subscriptions for WooCommerce offers a free plan. Its premium plans start at $149.

BONUS: MemberPress

The membership business model is a unique subscription-based online business model and comes with its own challenges and struggles. MemberPress is built exclusively to cater to the recurring subscription needs of this business type. 

While MemberPress is technically a WordPress membership plugin (the most popular one!) and not a WordPress subscription or recurring orders plugin, it does bring excellent subscription management to WordPress for its target use case. If you want to launch a membership business, MemberPress might be all you need.

You can bring selling capabilities to your membership website and sell exclusively to your members by getting a combination of MemberPress and WooCommerce and a third-party plugin like MemberPress WooCommerce Plus Plugin. This combo lets you sell everything from coaching sessions, content, and courses to physical or downloadable products.

Pricing: The basic edition of MemberPress sells for $279/year.

Choosing the best WooCommerce recurring order plugin for your site

If you’re looking to bring end-to-end subscription management to your physical goods WooCommerce store with a single plugin, get Autoship Cloud. It’s ideal for businesses looking to scale and add a user-friendly subscription solution.

Autoship Cloud doesn’t just let you set up highly customizable subscription options on your WooCommerce store but also helps you position your subscriptions as the natural choice. When users 1) get to set up customizable schedules, 2) are rewarded for repeat purchases, and 3) can pay using their preferred payment methods (among other cool stuff like finding the cheapest shipping rates every time), you become their go-to online store for subscribing to their favorite products and services.

If you’re comfortable going with a base plugin that offers a good subscription experience and can extend it with addons or additional plugins to fulfill your entire subscription mix, then pick WooCommerce Subscriptions.

If you run a membership business, go with MemberPress.

Wrapping it up… 

A WooCommerce recurring order for a B2B business looks very different from a WooCommerce recurring order for a D2C business. In fact, the same website might need to support a unique WooCommerce recurring order for each of its offerings. That’s why before choosing a WooCommerce subscription plugin, you need to see if it supports every WooCommerce recurring order type that your subscription business needs. 

Incentivizing loyal subscribers is another aspect of a subscription business. A subscription solution must therefore offer easy means to create coupons and offer recurring discounts in addition to providing a smooth subscription experience.

Finally, all the data you need on your subscriptions should be readily available. 

Autoship Cloud is one WordPress subscription plugin that doesn’t just accommodate most recurring billing models but also offers tools to offer a great subscription experience, incentivize subscribers, and use data to make better inventory and marketing decisions. Also, Autoship lets you add subscriptions to your store within a day and offers excellent value for money. Sign up for Autoship Cloud’s free trial and see for yourself how easy it’s to set up.

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