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How to create a subscription model like Amazon Prime with WooCommerce

Do you want to offer your customers some extra benefits through a member’s subscription? 

A very quick shipping service, free and traceable is what everybody wants when buying a product online, so much so that Amazon itself made “Amazon Prime” its number one service.

In order to receive free delivery on most of the goods sold on Amazon, you need to pay an annual or monthly subscription fee. The fee varies depending on your country of residence, but it is almost irrelevant, as it is low and your savings are quickly earned with only 2-3 orders each month.

The Amazon marketing department knew that unexpected shipping fees are the main cause of abandoned online carts and fixed the problem at its roots and turned it into a source of benefits for everybody, effectively turning a cost into a service.

Besides from it being an almost passive source of income, it increases the average value of every single subscriber, since being able to use a free shipping service surely increases the number of sales.
This is what every entrepreneur should do: Amazon isolated a problem and fixed it by making it its forte.

Amazon Prime is probably the best and most popular example, so let’s take a look at how we can copy this type of subscription. Yes, big shoes to fill, but let’s break down what Amazon Prime actually offers.

The perks of this subscription extend way beyond the free delivery and include some premium movies, music, and product discounts. To start off, we need to install a number of plugins to manage the free delivery and discounts on our products.

Apart from WooCommerce, we will install:

YITH WooCommerce Subscription
YITH WooCommerce Membership
YITH WooCommerce Dynamic Pricing and Discounts

The Save Marketplace is our store where we want to give our regular customers the possibility to save even more on delivery by offering an annual subscription of $29.99. The perk will be that they will receive 10% off on all grocery products.

Step 1 – Create a subscription product to take payment each year.

Without going through every subscription setting, which you can find in the documentation, we will create an annual plan for $29,99 with a 30-day free trial. No payment will be taken for the first 30 days.
Go to products, create new, and select a simple product with a tick in ‘Subscriptions’ as it shows in the screenshot. You can further customize your payment settings.

To make it look good and stand out, we’ve quickly added a pricing table using the YITH WooCommerce Subscription’s integrated blocks so we can get customers to sign up easily.  We will create a link from every product page that allows for this discount when a user signs up.

Step 2 – Create the membership for our Premium Customers which is linked to the subscription product.

This process is actually relatively simple, but don’t underestimate the power of memberships. You can set up any rule for a page or product to be visible, partly visible, or hidden. So adding content that you want to use for a premium perk is all possible.

Make sure that the membership is created when a certain product has been bought. In our case, the product ‘Save Premium’ has been added.

Step 3 – Give the privileges and discounts to the premium customers

For that, we will need YITH WooCommerce Dynamic Pricing and Discounts.

Firstly, let’s set up the 10% discount by creating a category rule for all groceries.

Choose ‘Special offer’, select ‘Specific Product Categories’, for which we’ve selected ‘groceries’

Secondly, we added the discount for items in the basket and made sure this is only applicable to our ‘Save Premium’ members.

The next part is to ensure the premium customers get free shipping. You can do this straight using the WooCommerce shipping rules as this feature comes as part of the Membership plugin to be able to select ‘Membership Free Shipping’

Go to WooCommerce Settings > Shipping and select the shipping zones you want to apply this discount to and create a new shipping method if you haven’t done so yet.

When creating a free shipping option for memberships, you need to make sure you simply select the option: ‘Membership Free Shipping’. Then save it…  After that, select which membership you want to associate with this option.

Now you have set up free shipping for your premium members! Create a customer account and test everything to make sure it works as you have intended. If you are unsure, check out the extensive documentation of each of the plugins or refer to this tutorial again.

Here is an example product with a clear ‘call to action’ on how potential members can save on this product. We think your customers will love this and become ever so loyal to your store.

Give your premium users more benefits.

Our example of copying Amazon Prime is just one of the options you can achieve with this combination of plugins. You can use this for many more scenarios in your store and give your most-valuable users more privileges for a regular subscription payment.

Example of ‘Create your own robot’ magazine subscription.

Instead of using an annual subscription model, you can create a monthly membership plan with different payment tiers. The highest tier will get everything for free, whereas the middle tier would get a discount on some of the premium content. YITH WooCommerce Subscription allows the members to easily up or downgrade.

Imagine you have a subscription to create your own mini robot. Each month the subscriber gets a box with materials sent and your tutorials are all available on your site but only visible to members. Furthermore, the subscribers can get a discount for a limited period whilst the subscription lasts, on other products. You can see that in this combination you can extend the different perks and make it a lot more attractive for new users to sign up and remain a subscriber for longer.

Example of a weekly supply of vegetables – with an additional discount on a meat box

The ever so popular subscription of grocery or vegetable boxes from your farm shop or regional supplier is here to stay… but a big problem is the rate of cancellations of this subscription model. Customers might get fed up with the same selections or cancel due to a planned holiday and never restart it again.

One way to loyalize the customer is to create an additional discount on other products like a weekly meat box or fresh milk delivered 3 times a week. By giving a discount on these products, you ‘lock’ your customers in having to buy the vegetable box too. The chances of cancellation or looking for a better supplier have suddenly gone down tremendously. Even better would be to create recipes that are linked to these grocery boxes and your customers can cook new dishes, adding a new dimension to your membership plans.

But it doesn’t stop there, invest in the future of your business.

There are more advantages to adopting a membership model. You create a more loyal customer basis with an increasing number of repeat purchases. You start to build up a customer database, a regular income and you have suddenly become a very attractive and valuable business. You might not think of it now, but watch the Dragon’s Den and see how the dragons value subscribers, growth, and a proven plan for future income. And what about your competition? Maybe you can collaborate with other businesses and create a joined membership plan?
The ideas are unlimited and your creativity is the only thing that is holding you back. Feel free to share your idea in the comments section, as we love hearing about your business plans.

Useful resources

To create a demo, start the subscriptions demo sandbox and enable the membership and dynamic pricing plugins. Start here> 


YITH WooCommerce Subscription 

YITH WooCommerce Membership

YITH WooCommerce Dynamic Pricing and Discounts

Plugin Documentation

YITH WooCommerce Subscription Documentation  

YITH WooCommerce Membership Documentation

YITH WooCommerce Dynamic Pricing and Discounts Documentation

Subscription Blog Posts

Subscriptions 2.0 new features and improvements

Suggested readings

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