Subbly vs. WooCommerce

This visual representation of where Subbly and WooCommerce stand in relation to each other should give you a good overview.

Let’s dive in

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 and add it to your WordPress admin. 

For context, 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 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).

Subbly vs. WooCommerce

Subscription-first™ business deserves a subscription-first™ platform

Ready to say goodbye
to Plugin Soup?

Subbly makes it easy!

Learn more

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 is truly a complete and much more 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, security issues and downtime aren’t something you have to worry about experiencing... or resolving. 

The main Pro
Subbly - is a team of real people who have been with us from the very beginning [...]

Ready to get started?

We make it super easy to migrate your subscription business to Subbly.

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 — meaning anyone who sees recurring revenue as only a small part of their business may be better off with WooCommerce.

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 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).

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, 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 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. 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 set up. 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, post purchases 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+ commitment to the WooPreorders 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!

TL;DR

Subbly offers a very focused set of features for subscription-first businesses, making it simple to use, inexpensive, and effective right from day one. 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.

It’s worth noting that you can use WordPress and Subbly together to get the best of both worlds! Find out here how you can embed/integrate Subbly’s checkout solution onto an existing WordPress site.

When to use?

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.
  • If you want to minimize the potential of security breaches and server downtime from day 1.

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.
  • If you’re willing to run the risk of unreliable hosting in return for slightly more backend flexibility.

Already using Subbly? Sign in.