Creating a private shopping club allows you to offer exclusivity around product purchasing for your store along with perks for your customers / members (such as access or discounts). While product sales will be a source of revenue for you, your store memberships can also generate revenue from registration fees or from advertisements sent to free members.

If you offer free membership to your purchasing clubs, you can require an email sign up and drive revenue via product sales, advertisements sent to your email list, or partnership sales offered by retailers (for which they pay you to offer the sale upfront or via commissions).

If you offer paid membership to your club, you can generate revenue via membership signups and product sales in exchange for members-only access to products, discounts, or site content.

You can create a few different kinds of private shopping clubs with WooCommerce:

The tools you’ll need to create your WooCommerce purchasing club will depend on which set up you choose.

WooCommerce Purchasing Clubs: Customers Only

What if you only want logged-in customers or subscribers to be able to be able to make purchases? This is fairly simple to set up, and you’ll need the WooCommerce Catalog Visibility Options extension ($49). This lets you easily restrict prices and / or purchasing to logged-in customers throughout your shop.

WooCommerce Purchasing Clubs: catalog visibility settings

Catalog Visibility Options: settings

You can also restrict prices and purchasing on a per-product basis by role. For example, you can allow only subscribers, or only customers and subscribers to purchase given products.

WooCommerce Purchasing Clubs: catalog visibility - per product

Product Restriction

When purchase is disabled, customers will see your alternate text instead:

WooCommerce Purchasing Clubs: Catalog Visibility - purchase disabled

Pro tip: Want your “Alternate Content” to look like a WooCommerce notice? Wrap it in <div class="woocommerce-info">my text</div> to do so.

If you want to provide free access to your private shopping club, you can allow open registration on your site at checkout or on the “My Account” page within the WooCommerce settings. You can even link to the My Account page from your “Alternate Content” notice to ask new customers to register for an account.

If you want to sell access to your purchasing club, rather than just requiring a free registration, you can do it in a couple ways:

  1. Sell a subscription (requires WooCommerce Subscriptions – $199) or regular product that’s available to everyone — override its settings for Product Restriction to make it publicly available. This will serve as a paid registration for users, as they’ll have a “customer” or “subscriber” role after purchase.

    If you only want active subscribers to be able to purchase, then restrict purchasing to “Subscribers” but not “Customers”. Subscriptions will move inactive subscribers to the “customer” role (or the role of your choice within its settings).

  2. If you simply want to charge for registration rather than using a separate product in your store, then creating a paid registration via Gravity Forms ($199) can help out here. You’ll use this along with the User Registration add-on (available to developer license holders, hence the $199 price tag) to accept payment, and User Registration will create a customer account.

    We have a tutorial on doing this as part of our Ultimate Member review.

If this is the kind of system you need, then you may want to check out our article on creating a WooCommerce store for customers only, which provides more detail about Catalog Visibility Options.

WooCommerce Purchasing Clubs: Members Only

What if you want access to expire after a given amount of time, or if you want to offer other perks with your site membership than just access to the private shopping club? For example, we wrote about how building a membership community helps to keep your members engaged and reduce membership churn.

If you want to offer other perks, such as content or membership access, or expire access after a time, then WooCommerce Memberships ($199 $149) may be a better fit for you. You’ll still be able to offer product access, but you have a bit more control over how and when that access is available, along with the ability to restrict other content.

You can also offer several types of memberships for different “tiers” of access, such as the ability to purchase all products, or only products from a particular category.

WooCommerce Purchasing Club: memberships

You’ll be able to grant membership access based on what product a customer has purchased and determine how long access is available. These can be your “public” products in your shop, and purchasing any of the products tied to the membership will automatically grant access.

WooCommerce Purchasing Club: Create new membership

Adding a new membership

You can also grant access manually if you don’t add a product, and can require a registration process where you “approve” users and add the membership for them instead. The only downside here is that you can’t provide a “free” membership registration without some custom code.

Once you’ve created your membership plans, you can easily restrict all products to your members, or select some products / categories to restrict to the membership. If you do opt to restrict all products, you can then override this on a per-product basis to make products public (such as your products that grant membership access).

WooCommerce Purchasing Club: restrict products

Restrict All Products

While restricting your products to members, you can determine if products are only visible to members, or if everyone can see products, but only members can purchase.

WooCommerce Memberships Review: restrict products

Plans: Restrict Products

You can also restrict new products or customize restrictions on a per-product basis from the “Edit Product” screen in a new meta box.

WooCommerce Memberships Review: product meta box

Products meta box

The biggest benefit here is that you can then offer other perks for your members, such as access to private pages, blog posts, membership forums, courses, or other content on your site. You can also expire memberships after a time and provide discounts to members.

WooCommerce Purchasing Clubs: Member Discounts

Finally, what if you don’t quite want to create a private shopping club? What if instead, your WooCommerce purchasing club should allow public purchasing, but give members a discount on purchases?

WooCommerce Memberships is still a good fit here. You can provide member discounts for membership, so that customers will pay full price, but members will pay a discounted price while purchasing. You can quickly discount all products:

WooCommerce Purchasing Club: add discounts

Add discounts

Or you can offer discounts on specific products and categories:

WooCommerce Memberships Review: Product Discounts

Create Member Discounts

When members are logged in and purchasing, they’ll see a “Member Discount” badge, along with the updated members-only price:

WooCommerce Purchasing Club: member discount shown

You can even incentive non-members to join your club by showing discount messages to them (or remind members to log in!). If a customer does not have a membership discount for the product, but one exists, Memberships will show them that a discount is available and how to gain access to it.

WooCommerce Purchasing Club:  discount available

Non-member Discount Notice

This notices can also be disabled if you don’t want to tell non-members which products are discounted.

WooCommerce Purchasing Clubs: Summary

There are a couple ways to set up WooCommerce purchasing clubs, and which plugin you’ll need depends on how your private shopping club is set up: do you want to allow access to customers-only? Should access expire after a time? Do you want to charge for access, or provide it for free? Should only members be able to purchase, or should everyone be able to purchase? Should members get a discount?

These questions will determine whether Catalog Visibility Options ($49) or WooCommerce Memberships ($199, currently on sale for $149) is a better fit for your WooCommerce purchasing club.


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Posted by Beka Rice

Beka Rice manages the direction of Sell with WP content and writes or edits most of our articles to share her interests in eCommerce. Or she just writes as an excuse to spend more time jamming out to anything from The Clash to Lady Gaga. Who knows.