To truly understand the similarities and differences between Subbly and WooCommerce, you will first need to understand that WooCommerce is not a standalone ecommerce platform, but an app that will work only in conjunction with a site made and hosted using WordPress. This means that you will automatically be reliant on third-party hosting, which is often more vulnerable to security issues and downtime than a platform like Subbly which aims to guarantee 24/7 uptime. Furthermore, if you’re looking for a solution to handle recurring billing for subscription products, you will need to install another app called WooCommerce Subscriptions.
For context, WooCommerce emerged in 2011 from WooThemes, a project that was initially created around the idea of building themes for WordPress CMS. From there, they grew to be a leading solution for handling payment processing and billing for anyone self-hosting their site on WordPress.
This review will assume a combination of WordPress and WooCommerce Subscriptions. You can see how it compares to Subbly which is an all-in-one solution (i.e., you don’t have to deal with any other platform).
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Although WooCommerce has branded themselves as the most customizable, Subbly is hot on their heels. One of Subbly’s key features, called the survey builder, allows you to survey customers as they shop and offer custom packages during checkout, with dynamically changing prices.
Subbly is so flexible in this regard that your customers can assemble their recurring order (or subscription box) by themselves in many cases. Not only does this make it easier for you to set up your business, but it also gives your customers more choice and a better shopping experience.
Subbly has a suite of features that are hyper-focused on subscription business models, meaning you don’t have to go and install other apps or plugins, or use other platforms. This in turn makes the platform cheaper, easier to use, and more effective from day one. These standard features include: custom billing/shipping intervals, preorders, gifts, upsells and more, alongside some great, simple to use features like automations. All in all, Subbly is truly a much more complete and affordable solution than WordPress and WooCommerce Subscriptions.
On top of this, it’s also important to note that as Subbly monitors and maintains its own server space. Compared to WordPress sites that require third-party hosting, with Subbly, security issues and downtime aren’t something you have to worry about experiencing... or resolving.
We make it super easy to migrate your subscription business to Subbly.
Compared to WooCommerce, Subbly offers far fewer payment processing solutions and doesn’t support various sales channels (like point of sale or Amazon). Also, the number of available integrations and plug-ins is scarce compared to what is offered on the app store on WordPress, although this is mostly due to the fact that we tend to offer a built-in solution for every feature.
Additionally, despite having a powerful, highly customizable website builder, Subbly also has considerably fewer design templates than WooCommerce.
As Subbly was built originally for subscription boxes, the platform supports physical product delivery better than digital services or membership businesses. While there are many businesses which use Subbly for their digital content or membership offerings, the solution may be less seamless than working with WooCommerce (at least for now!).
Additionally, Subbly caters primarily for businesses who put subscription revenue first — meaning anyone who sees recurring revenue as only a small part of their business may be better off with WooCommerce.
But it is indeed true that you’ll be able to do some impressive things when setting up your subscriptions, like creating customizable billing/shipping frequencies, different product variants for both one-time and subscription products, dunning and customer retention strategies, and more. But perhaps what makes WordPress shine the most is their seemingly endless app store (although, like their templates, each one you use will increase your overall costs).
WooCommerce Subscriptions relies heavily on WordPress’ highly popular website builder, which can be used for ecommerce but was originally built for blogging and publishing, which is perhaps what it does best. As it is an app for WordPress itself, WooCommerce Subscriptions provides a handful of pre-made ecommerce-oriented themes, which become unlocked when you install the Woo app on your WordPress admin.
Although the entire builder setup and interface can come across as a bit clunky to a non-technical user, it definitely gives the customer a lot of flexibility. Plus, the number of templates is truly impressive (though not all are free).
Although Subbly is not directly integrated with WordPress’ admin, you will still be able to integrate Subbly product checkouts onto your WordPress site
. In this setup, you’ll need to handle your customer’s subscriptions through Subbly, not your WordPress admin.
On a different note, as using Woo Subscriptions means you have to work with WooCommerce, you’ll enjoy plenty of integrations and support for all major payment gateways.
This is the main thing we don’t like about the WordPress and WooCommerce combo, and why Subbly is built as an all-in-one solution: instead of fumbling around with multiple third parties, you can focus on building a great business and servicing your subscribers all in one place.
The main thing to consider when opting for WordPress as a CMS is that it’s self-hosted and can be complex even for more techy users. The fact that it was primarily built for bloggers also makes it an inadequate solution for scaling ecommerce businesses, especially if it gets unstable and breaks once you're building momentum.
Remember, once you’re relying on third-party hosting options, the chances of security breaches or extended periods of downtime will be much higher. These problems are harder to resolve if your hosting provider isn’t responsive or doesn’t see server uptime as a priority, which is not the case with a platform like Subbly that monitors and maintains its own server space 24/7.
The main drawback of opting for WordPress and WooCommerce is that costs can easily balloon. On the surface, it looks affordable, but that’s because you need to add plugins and integrations to fill the gaps in the features offered in the basic WooCommerce setup. Although they don’t take any additional fees on top of those mandated by your payment gateway, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The default app doesn't remotely cover most of the features you’ll most need in order to scale and streamline everyday business (i.e., checkout user interface, building scalable sales funnels by setting up upsells or cross-sells, marketing tools etc.). Plus, you’ll still have to pay for hosting your site on WordPress on top of that.
Some more examples of how WooCommerce and WordPress' costs can dramatically increase are fairly basic features like the ability to take preorders, which requires a $100+ annual commitment to the Woo Pre-orders app. Similarly, if you want to monetize users who abandon their cart without purchasing, you’ll need another app for yet another cost. And so on, and so on. In contrast, Subbly offers both of these features out of the box!
WooCommerce, on the other hand, has incredible capabilities, but it is not a standalone platform; users will have to use WordPress, WooCommerce Subscriptions, and likely many other apps to achieve a sophisticated set up to support a growing business. The ability to add plugins and apps is great, but it can be expensive. The need for a self-hosted solution is also not ideal for businesses that need to be able to guarantee 100% uptime and world-class security.
It’s worth noting that you can use WordPress (+ WooCommerce) and Subbly together. Find out
how you can embed/integrate Subbly’s checkout solution onto an existing WordPress site.