The Most Important Plugins for WooCommerce: Subscription Shops, GDPR, Newsletters & Co.

Michael Firnkes Last updated 20.10.2020
9 Min.
WooCommerce plugins selection

There are hundreds of thousands Plugins for WooCommercefor every conceivable purpose. It is not so easy to estimate the quality of the extensions. We present the most important tools that you need for common shop projects. But also free alternatives.

The variety of Plugins for WordPress and WooCommerce is a great advantage. You don't have to hire developers or an agency for every special function in your shop. In many cases, existing solutions can also be adapted with relatively little effort so that they meet your specific needs.

But whether an extension is actually of high quality, or even represents a security risk, sometimes only becomes apparent at second glance. This is especially true if it is offered free of charge. For example on the largest marketplace WordPress .org. Because despite many a free solution that works well and stably: There is not to the same extent a personal contact person or support available, as it should be the case with paid Plugins .

Tip

You are new in the world of WooCommerce? Or you want to start your online shop? Then read our articles How good is WooCommerce? and WooCommerce for WP professionals. Also our extensive e-book on the subject.

What makes a good plugin?

You can spot high-quality plugins by looking out for these signs:

  • Number and type of ratings on WordPress.org or trading places like codecanyon.net
  • Response time and quality of responses in the developer's support forums (or also on WordPress.org)
  • Number of downloads
  • Support in your language, ideally from a local support team
  • How quickly are updates rolled out after a WordPress or WooCommerce update?
  • Frequency of plugin updates
  • Have there been critical security vulnerabilities in the past and how quickly were these fixed?

You can also ask in specialist groups for WooCommerce what experiences other users have had with a particular extension. For example, on Facebook. See our community resources and tips.

You can find the in-house extensions of WooCommerce on the portal of the provider Automattic. Among them are also free tools. For example, for the simple connection of PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay or Google Analytics.

I'll guide you through some well-known premium plugins and their free alternatives below. These plugins extend WooCommerce's functionality with features which, from experience, are in particularly high demand from both shop operators and agencies.

WooCommerce Memberships

If you sell memberships instead of physical items, or sell your goods exclusively to selected customers, then WooCommerce Memberships is worth a look. With the extension you can implement membershipssites , closed customer areas, premium content shops and much more (Image: © WooCommerce):

WooCommerce Memberships
Managing subscriptions with WooCommerce Memberships

The options range from limited access to products and special content areas to free trial memberships. Create different offerings like "Silver", "Gold" or "Platinum" subscriptions.

Members can be rewarded with certain special offers and vouchers. In combination with WooCommerce Subscriptions (more on this in a moment), they can also upgrade or downgrade their memberships.

Mailchimp for WooCommerce

With Mailchimp you can send newsletters and automate your marketing emails. The extension for WooCommerce integrates your online shop into this workflow. Include your newsletter at various points in the checkout:

WooCommerce Send newsletter
Newsletter option in WooCommerce with Mailchimp

But this is only the beginning. You can achieve the following with further integration:

  • Synchronize your customers' email addresses with existing lists
  • Segment your customers by the products in their shopping cart or by frequency of purchases
  • Evaluate the performance figures of your product and marketing emails in detail
  • Have integrated ad campaigns from Facebook and Instagram
  • Send product recommendations or vouchers based on previous purchases
  • Send email reminders to customers who still have items in their shopping cart
Note

Some of the functions above are not legally permitted in some countries, or only under certain conditions. In Germany, for example, you usually need explicit consent to send emails (Double-Opt-In). You should also be careful with customer segmentation. Clarify these points with your law firm.

By the way, similar extensions are also available for MailPoet, the newsletter plugin for WordPress. Although not quite as comprehensive.

WooCommerce Subscriptions

Selling products in a subscription model is possible with WooCommerce Subscriptions. Because in the standard of WooCommerce it is not possible to automatically collect recurring payments. You need such payments if you sell software with monthly fees, other services or regular deliveries.

Here's a selection of the tasks made possible with this plugin:

  • Flexible payment periods per product
  • Integration of payment services such as PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay or Wirecard to make payments
  • Creation of corresponding invoices per cycle
  • Your customers can switch between different subscription models or take out several subscriptions at once
  • Reminders to renew subscriptions by email, or even discounted subscriptions or free trial periods

You always have an overview of when and how many subscriptions have been taken out, their expiration and how much revenue you're generating now or are set to generate in the future. Based on these figures, you can plan appropriate marketing campaigns and new models.

WooCommerce Bookings

Your business model is based in whole or in part on the sale of events, training, rentals, consulting, vacation, health and wellness offers, webinars, etc.? WooCommerce Bookings extends the shop system with functions for appointment-based services. Including modules for event planning (Image: © WooCommerce):

WooCommerce Bookings
Plan events with WooCommerce Bookings

Your customers can specify their preferred dates and you display free and blocked slots. Bookings are made by days, hours or even minutes. You can assign individual sessions or group appointments and restrict the minimum or maximum number of participants.

Offer discounts for teams, early booking and for certain target groups. Or demand higher prices on weekends or at certain busy times. This plugin even supports different time zones if your customers book from abroad. You decide how bookings are confirmed, or if and how reservations can be canceled. Appointment reminders can be sent automatically by email.

WooCommerce Product Bundles

WooCommerce does support the creation of so-called grouped products to show simple product packages, also known as bundles. The standard functionality, however, doesn't include a deeper product logic:

Grouped products
Grouped products in WooCommerce: Not always suitable for everyday use

For example, Grouped Products allows your customers to place only a selection of the grouped products in their shopping cart.

If you want to offer product packages that contain a price advantage, or that only make sense together, you have gained nothing. Furthermore, logical conditions such as "Product A excludes product B" or "Product A may only be included x times" are not possible in the basic function. For all these cases WooCommerce has designed the paid extension Product Bundles.

More Product Bundles highlights: Increase your cross-selling revenues with features such as "frequently purchased together", which you'll already recognize from shopping giants like Amazon. Add further products to the bundles, which can be added optionally to the shopping cart. For example, care products for clothing or cables and accessories for technical goods. You determine how the sub-products are displayed in the shopping cart, checkout and order emails (grouped or individually).

WooCommerce Dynamic Pricing

In WooCommerce, you can set different prices for different product variants. So the "blue" t-shirt, for example, could be cheaper than the "red" one. The voucher function of the shop system is also quite sophisticated. Discounts can be controlled by the minimum order value. Or certain products must be included in the shopping cart for the discount to take effect.

However, for complex discounts directly on the product itself, you need the additional tool Dynamic Pricing. It implements the following scenarios, among others:

  • Grant a five percent discount on a product if it is placed in the shopping cart a certain amount of times (bulk prices)
  • Increase this discount to ten percent for certain WordPress user roles, for example "Gold Members"
  • Discount a product if the customer adds another product from the same category
  • Add a special discount for a certain number of products from the same category

These actions can also be partly linked to each other. An example: "Discount for Category A if Gold Members purchase X number of Category B products". Used correctly, the Dynamic Pricing extension is a powerful marketing tool.

Note

In some countries, only some of these discounts are allowed while others may be subject to competition law. Please check this before you choose a plugin like Dynamic Pricing.

Product Add-Ons & Gravity Forms Product Add-ons

The sale of individualized goods is on the rise. No matter if it's shoes in the personal favorite colors, the self-assembled muesli or jewelry with engraving. With the Product Add-ons extension, you have the option to let your customers customize product data before they click the "Buy" button.

This WooCommerce extension increases the input fields and checkboxes on the edit product page. Individual prices for special requests can be implemented as well as uploading graphics, building instructions, samples and sketches. You can even offer additional services. Gift packaging, for example, or a special delivery or maybe a dedication or signature for works of art.

Tip

Gravity Forms Product Add-ons goes in a similar direction. It extends the popular and very comprehensive solution for contact forms Gravity Forms for WordPress to implement a product configurator. The tool is especially suitable if you already use the associated mainPlugin .

Another little hint: In addition to the two paid extensions, there are free tools such as the Personalized Product Option Manager. This is not quite as extensive, but you can also use it to add additional modules to your product pages. For example, text and selection fields, checkboxes, date or number fields:

Individual products
Sell customized products with WooCommerce

The free plugin is a good way to test out selling customizable products. If the range of functions then isn't enough, you can still switch to a paid plugin. However, the product data entered by the customers up to that point can't be transferred.

Table Rate Shipping

You can use the so-called "shipping classes" settings in WooCommerce to determine very precisely what shipping costs need to be paid for by which customers, in which scenarios and for which products. The setup of these classes looks rather complicated at first. But after some playing around on your test system, you'll quickly understand the principle behind it.

In some cases, however, the standard solution just isn't enough. Especially if any of the following apply:

  • You need to further subdivide the shipping classes, for example by regions that are not represented in WooCommerce.
  • The shipping costs should depend on weight
  • The number of goods in the shopping cart plays a role
  • The shipping costs should vary according to the order value

Then you should take a look at the Table Rate Shipping extension.

Tip

In addition to the original WooCommerce Table Rate Shipping plugin, there are many imitators of the same name available. These may be cheaper but you should check first whether they offer the same range of features and support. My advice is to purchase the original plugin.

With Advanced Flat Rate Shipping there is also a free solution. With it you can also set special shipping costs per product, or for individual categories and countries.

You just want to link the option "free shipping" in WooCommerce to certain conditions? For example, depending on the products, the quantity, the weight, the dimensions, the cart total or the WordPress user role? Then WooCommerce Advanced Free Shipping might be right for you. The Plugin is especially ideal if some customers order very bulky or heavy goods, while you normally do not charge shipping fees.

Plugins for Europe

In the European Union, there are numerous legal requirements you need to consider for WooCommerce, particularly in Germany and Austria. One wrong setting and you face the quite realistic risk of a legal warning - from competitors, competition associations or authorities. This applies especially if:

  • The registered office for your online shop is in the EU
  • If you sell from your shop to EU countries

In both cases, you cannot operate WooCommerce in the standard. This also applies to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR ). Fortunately, there are several Plugins and service providers that help you with the topic of legal security for WooCommerce . You can find out more about these extensions in the blog postWooCommerce .

Tip

Note that there is no 100% protection against warnings. You must have your webshop checked by an online-savvy law firm. Before the launch and in an ongoing process.

WooCommerce Product
On the safe side legally: In Germany you have to provide very specific information for your products

Further WooCommerce plugins

In addition to the well-known extensions, there are numerous little helpers that make your life with WooCommerce easier. This will save you time-consuming individual development. But be careful: Too many Plugins installed at the same time can slow down your WordPress system. Or the extensions can paralyze each other. If you are unsure, ask a service provider.

Note

Note: It is even more important that you test each Plugin in detail on a separate test system before you release it in your live shop. The same applies to updates from WordPress , WooCommerce and third-partyPlugins.

Equally important is a high-performance web hosting that is completely geared towards WooCommerce . This is the only way to cope with the many processes that your visitors perform in the shop at the same time. See our article 4 factors for the WooCommerce hosting. Are you developing online shop projects for your customers? Then use our free hosting for WooCommerce now.

Here is a list of the most important places to find plugins for all manner of tasks, from performance optimization and product management to improving your webshop design:

You can find more tips on WooCommerce in our 70+ sites strong e-book WooCommerce for professionals: Online shops with WordPress . It is aimed at freelancers, agencies, WP professionals, but also at beginners.

You are missing a solution? You have questions about WooCommerce? Feel free to use the comment function. You want to be informed about news and tutorials about the shop system? Then follow us on Twitter, Facebook or via our newsletter.

Contributed photo: Todd Quackenbush

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