There were tons of really exciting things happening at WooConf over the past week for WooCommerce store owners, but there are a few that I’d love to write about in the coming weeks. The first announcement that absolutely made the conference for me was from Brent at Prospress on releasing a Gift Subscriptions plugin for WooCommerce + WooCommerce Subscriptions.
This is huge. WooCommerce Subscriptions Gifting will open up the ability to sell group memberships / group subscriptions, corporate memberships, or other kinds of umbrella subscriptions with WooCommerce.
We’d written some time ago about selling group memberships with WooCommerce, which essentially talked about using a coupon to give away subscriptions to gift recipients. However, this process could be clunky, and it didn’t allow purchasers to renew memberships for the recipients.
WooCommerce Subscription Gifting is changing this, and making it very simple to allow customers to give each other subscriptions or memberships on your store in a completely automated way. You can read more about the plugin on the GitHub page in addition to our review here.
First, Gift Subscriptions is free to use if you already purchased WooCommerce Subscriptions. You can download the plugin directly from GitHub. This has been released as a mini-extension since most sites running Subscriptions won’t need this functionality, but there are still a significant number that can benefit from it.
The ability to gift subscriptions will allow you to sell a subscription to one customer while providing the benefits of the subscription to another customer.
For example, let’s say I want to buy my brother an “album game of the month” club subscription for his birthday, which provides both vinyl records and a digital download. I want to be able to give him direct access to the downloads rather than tying them to my own account, so I want to essentially gift this subscription to him. This is now possible with WooCommerce Subscriptions in an automated gifting process.
I can set him up as a recipient of the subscription, and when purchased, I can control the billing aspects (such as resubscribing, upgrading, and downgrading), while he gets the subscription benefits (such as the shipped items and download access).
First, you’ll need to download the WooCommerce Gift Subscriptions plugin, which is available from Prospress via GitHub. You need to already have WooCommerce Subscriptions purchased and installed to use the plugin.
Once you have it installed, that’s all you have to do 🙂 Any subscription-type product in your store can now be gifted to others when purchased. There a few things I’d recommend configuring, however.
A new setting is added under WooCommerce > Settings > Subscriptions — you can opt to only allow recipients to access downloads if tied to the subscription product, or give the purchaser access as well.
If you’ll be gifting subscriptions, I’d recommend marking the product as Sold Individually in the product data. As a recipient needs to be entered for each gifted subscription, this forces the customer to enter a recipient for each gift subscription purchased. Without this, customers may adjust quantity expecting to be able to add another email, but this would just give multiple subscriptions to the same recipient.
Once you have your settings and products configured, your customers can gift subscriptions to each other with no additional effort on your part.
When a customer comes to the store, they’ll see a new “This is a gift” option for a subscription-type product. If enabled, this will allow the customer to enter a recipient for the subscription.
This recipient information can be changed in the cart and checkout process if needed. If the recipient email exists as a customer account already on your site, that customer’s shipping address will be filled at checkout and the existing account used for the subscription.
Once a gifted subscription is purchased, only the purchaser can manage the billing for the subscription, such as making upgrades or changing payment methods. Recipients can only cancel or suspend a gifted subscription.
The purchaser will see the recipient details for any gifted subscriptions, along with renewal orders, from the account section.
When a recipient received a gift subscription, the recipient will get an email from the store with the subscription details. If the recipient doesn’t yet have an account, the plugin will create a new customer account automatically and email the account details to the new subscription recipient:
Login details of the account, as well as information about where they can manage their new subscription, is sent to the recipient via email.
These automated emails can all managed under the WooCommerce > Settings > Emails section of the store.
Once the recipient logs in, they can see the subscription details, pause subscriptions, and cancel subscriptions, but cannot change payment methods or upgrade / downgrade. When the subscription expires, the recipient cannot resubscribe. S/he will see the purchaser details for the subscription in the account section.
As a store owner, you’ll know when a subscription has been gifted because the line item for the order will have the recipient details listed. The recipient email is added, and the shipping address for the recipient can be viewed via tooltip. This shipping address will also be used for the main shipping address for the subscription.
Viewing the subscription order will look very similar, as the recipient details are added here as well.
Another great perk of using WooCommerce Subscription Gifting is automatic compatibility with WooCommerce Memberships. If a subscription product grants access to a membership plan, and that subscription product is gifted to a recipient, the recipient will have the membership created, not the purchaser.
This means that the recipient gets all of the benefits of the membership, such as product access or discounts, while the purchaser still manages billing.
The ability to gift subscriptions with WooCommerce is a huge step forward for subscription and membership stores. Being able to completely automate gift subscription creation and billing will make store owners’ lives much easier while opening up their stores for customers to give subscription and membership benefits to friends.
If you do use the plugin, I’d recommend subscribing to the GitHub repo for updates so you can keep an eye on development and new features as they’re added, then manually update the plugin in your shop.
The Prospress team did a great job with this extension, and you can get full details on the GitHub page and download the plugin .zip file from there.