Subscriptions Gifting is Here!

WooCommerce Subscriptions Gifting is officially releasing to the WooCommerce Marketplace. This is big news for both store owners and customers! So let’s delve into what this is all about.

Sometimes gift giving can be a real struggle. What to give the Grandmother who already has a full collection of knitted tea cosies? What to do when you wake up in a cold sweat of panic on the day of your loved one’s birth? Well the instant gift of subscriptions is here to help! Grandma could have a monthly subscription to sky diving (or teapots); weekly coffee could be turning up on the doorstep of your friend with a new baby; or fantasy books arriving for your unfathomable teenage nephew. It’s the Gift(ing Extension) that keeps on giving!

Basically, Gifting for WooCommerce Subscriptions makes it possible for one person to purchase a subscription product for somebody else. A wonderful tool for customers who want to share their favourite things with friends and family, and fantastic news for store owners – whose products can now reach a greater audience. This is also a lasting relationship for the store owners- Prospress supports you all the way! Once you have purchased Subscriptions Gifting you can contact our dedicated team of Support Wizards if any issues arise.

Bag of coffee beans being held open

Customers can now choose to purchase subscriptions for others by entering the recipient’s email on the single product page, cart, or checkout pages. You don’t have to worry if, for example, the recipient has never heard of a monthly meat box – after a subscription has been purchased, Gifting will manage on-boarding the recipient to setup an account with the store. The purchaser will remain in charge of billing and will maintain complete control over the subscription, however, the recipient will also receive some management capabilities. Account login details, as well as information about where they can manage their new subscription, is sent to the recipient via email.

You can also use it in a corporate capacity. For example, if you’re selling monthly industry news content to professionals in your industry, you could sign up new employees through Gifting.

Phone showing Trelllo on top of Financial TImes

Store managers can customise the way Gifting works by going to WooCommerce > Settings > Subscriptions and scrolling down to Gifting Subscriptions. Here the store manager can change the checkbox text which appears on the single product, cart, and checkout pages. By default, this is set to ‘This is a gift’.

When a subscription gift is purchased, the shipping address of the subscription is set to the recipient’s shipping address. This streamlines the process for customers proceeding through the checkout when purchasing subscription products for other users. The first time the new recipient logs into their account, they will be prompted to enter their shipping address (if applicable) and change their password.

Subscriptions Gifting is the brainchild of one of our developers, James Allan. I asked him to fill us in a bit more about his gift to the world (pun intended):

Carolyn: Subscriptions Gifting is here! Can you tell us a little more about some of its features?

James: Yeah absolutely, there are several great features! For example, WooCommerce Subscriptions Gifting is also integrated with WooCommerce Memberships. Purchasing subscription products tied to a membership plan for a recipient will grant the benefits of the membership to the recipient rather than the purchaser. All the features of managing the memberships granted through subscription gifts remain intact – store managers can pause, edit, cancel, and delete memberships granted to recipients, as normal through the WooCommerce > Memberships administration screen.

Gifting for WooCommerce Subscriptions also includes special handling for downloadable products purchased as a gift. When a downloadable product is purchased for a recipient, by default the recipient is granted the permissions to download the files attached to that product. It is also possible to grant download permissions to both recipient and purchaser.

Carolyn: When I give a gift I try to remember to take the price tag off! In a virtual world how do you make sure the recipient does not see the price, or any other purchaser information that I might not want them to see?

James: We make sure to hide product prices from the recipient when showing them subscription details and sending them related emails. More broadly on privacy, we ensure recipients cannot see purchaser billing details and have limited visibility on the subscription’s related orders. For example, recipients cannot visit the subscription’s related order pages. The original purchase order will also be completely hidden. This is important because that order could contain information about other products purchased in the original order that are not related to the recipient.

Carolyn: Why is it being released as a separate extension?

James: That’s a great question. Over the last 6 years, since its initial release, the Subscriptions code base has grown to nearly 100,000 lines of code. As the plugin grows and as we add new features, feature bloat starts to become a concern. Feature Bloat (also known as Feature Creep) is the process where, as new features get added over the life of a product, these extra features start to expand on the basic function of the product and can result in software bloat, over-complication, and slower development.

Recently at Prospress, we’ve started to have a discussion about Feature Creep and whether some of the new features we’re working on should be added to the core Subscriptions plugin, or whether they should be offered as a separate addon. We’re still trying to settle on the exact criteria, however, the main questions we ask ourselves are: “What percentage of our customers will likely need or use this functionality”, and ”How complex is the feature and functionality behind it”. If we don’t think a substantial majority of our customers and their stores will need this feature and if the feature is complex enough to make its maintenance alongside other core features a significant amount of work, we’ll release it as an addon. There is a range of other benefits I won’t go into here – there’s a whole other post worth of content there – but we think Gifting fits those criteria.

Carolyn: What is your favourite part of Gifting?

James: It has got to be the recipient on-boarding process. When planning how the extension was going to work, one of the challenges we faced was how we would handle purchasing products for recipients who didn’t already have an account. We knew the recipient would need an account so they could manage the subscription and receive access to downloadable or membership content but we also wanted to make it as simple as possible for people to gift a product. For this reason we only collect the recipient’s email address as that’s the only information we need to get in contact with them. With an email, we have everything we need to create an account for them.

Carolyn: How does the rest of the team feel about the new product?

James: Well I gathered a few quotes for you to answer this one!

“I’m excited about Gifting because it would be amazing to give some Subscriptions team members gift subscriptions using Subscriptions Gifting” – Ali

“I’m excited about Gifting because it’s the first new plugin we’ve launched through WooCommerce.com in 3.5 years” – Brent

“We give because someone gave to us
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.
– Alberto Rios (but contributed by Zach!)”

Carolyn: What do you think will be store owners’ favourite part?

James: Some stores and the products they sell are better suited to gifting than others. Some of those stores where gifting is almost essential to their business have written custom solutions and are already offering their customers the option to gift their products. So we’re really excited and we expect our customers will be too that we’re now able to offer a gifting solution fully supported and written by the team behind the core Subscriptions plugin.

Gift wrapped present

Carolyn: What’s coming next?

James: We’ve had some early feedback from store managers that they would like to give their customers the option to set the subscription start date when purchasing a gift. This is important when a customer is buying a birthday present – of course they don’t want to spoil the surprise, and want the recipient to be notified on a specific date. This is something we’re actively working on and will release in a future version.

In other Subscriptions related news, we’ve just recently tagged a WooCommerce Subscriptions 2.3 beta. 2.3 brings some new and exciting features and improvements to the core plugin. To read about them, check out our feature road map. If you would like to become a beta tester, please register here.

CONCLUSION

The Prospress team are very excited about this new addition to our product family. We hope that as more stores add Gifting, it opens up a plethora of new ways to give a gift. If you are a store owner, a gift giver, or even a potential gift recipient, and you would like to explore the wonderful world of Subscriptions Gifting further, you can find more information here.

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