Which one should I use? Subbly or WooCommerce

WooCommerce emerged in 2011 from WooThemes, a project that was initially gathered around the idea of building themes for WordPress CMS. From there, they grew to be the #1 solution for handling payment processing and billing for anyone self-hosting their site on WordPress. 

To truly understand the similarities and differences between WooCommerce and Subbly, 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. 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 and add it to your WordPress admin. 

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).

WooCommerce

Pros

WooCommerce advertises their billing app for WordPress as the most customizable eCommerce platform for building your online business, which could be up for debate. But it is indeed true that you’ll be able to do some phenomenal 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. No matter what business problem you’re trying to solve, it’s likely you will find a WordPress app to help (although, like their templates, it will increase your overall costs).

Woo 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, Woo Subscriptions provides a handful of premade 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 free).

Although Subbly is not directly integrated with WordPress’ admin, you will still be able to integrate Subbly product checkouts onto your WordPress site (here's how). 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.

Cons

We typically don’t recommend building your business on top of a stack of plugins because it creates a lot of failure points and can get quite pricey. This is the main thing we don’t like about the WordPress and WooCommerce combo, and is 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 customers 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 makes it an inadequate solution for scaling eCommerce businesses, especially if it gets unstable and breaks once you're building momentum. 

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 set up. The WooCommerce plugin will cost $199/yr and won’t take any additional transaction fees on top of the payment processing fees mandated by your payment gateway. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg as 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, post purchases or cross-sells, marketing tools etc.). Plus, you’ll still have to pay for hosting your site on Wordpress, with the most basic WordPress-branding-free plan starting at $8/mo. 

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 $129/yr commitment to the Woo Preorders app. Similarly, if you want to monetize users who abandon their cart without purchasing, you’ll need another app for a whopping $79/year. And so on, and so on. In contrast, Subbly offers both of these features out of the box!

Subbly

Pros

Best-in-Class Support

Get the help you need from our excellent support staff

Automate Your Business

Automate marketing, management and operations with no code using complex business models

Customizable Checkouts & Subs

Collect information from your customers, and even allow them to pick their products and configure their subscription.

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. A few examples of these out of the box features include: custom billing/shipping intervals, preorders, gifts, upsells and more. These are all available and included in the price of even the cheapest plan, alongside some great, simple to use features like automations. All in all,Subbly truly o a complete and much more affordable solution than WordPress and WooCommerce Subscriptions.

The main Pro
Subbly – is a team of real passionate people who have been with us from the very beginning
Cons

Compared to Woo, 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, 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. 

Because 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 who use Subbly for their digital or membership business, the solution will be less seamless than working with WooCommerce (at least for now!). Additionally, Subbly caters primarily for businesses who put subscription revenue first, anyone who sees recurring revenue as only a small part of their business, may be better off with WooCommerce. 

TL;DR

WooCommerce has incredible capabilities, but it is not a standalone platform; users will have to use WordPress, Woo Subscription, 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. Subbly offers a very focused set of features for subscription-first businesses, making it simple to use, inexpensive, and effective right from day one.

It’s worth noting that you can use WordPress and Subbly together to get the best of both worlds! Find out how you can embed/integrate Subbly’s checkout solution onto an existing WordPress site for only $19/mo (in addition to your WordPress costs).

When to use?

WooCommerce

  • If you don’t mind paying a premium and spending hours trying to master the setup and management of one of the most prominent CMS + eCommerce combos out there.
  • If you like the comfort of 1000+ integrations available on the WordPress admin.
  • If you’re already familiar with Wordpress builder or have your site created on Wordpress and are just looking for a solution to add subscriptions to your site.

Subbly

  • If you’re looking for a simple-to-use eCommerce solution that already has everything you need at a very friendly price.
  • If you expect friendly, world-class human support as and when you need it.
  • If you run on a business setup with very specific needs and need complete customizability of the checkout flow and billing/shipping schedule.

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Subbly really is built subscription-first. While you'd need a lot of plugins and connectors to start off on other platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce, here, it's all built right in.

Charmaine Merriweather
Founder & Owner of HUES Book Box

Before I found Subbly I never had the ability or finances to have a subscription business platform which could meet my needs and expectations. Subbly has been there for me every step of the way!

NATALIE SEATON
Founder and CEO @ BathBox

Everything was so straightforward, the support team are AMAZING, I would not have been able to launch without Subbly.

ALEXANDRA HARVELL
Founder and CEO @ Little Bakers Club

We’ve used the software for over 3 years and it keeps getting better. It has everything you need to easily run a successful subscription box business!

LIAM BRENNAN
Co-founder @ Buster Box

Subbly is straightforward and easy to use. Designing your site is simple and allows you to control your entire business from one place.

GEORGE KLEANTHOUSE
Founder and CEO @ Model Box