What is a minimum subscription period?

A minimum subscription period is a fixed term during which your customer won’t be able to cancel their subscription.

For example, you have a monthly subscription. However, you want your customer to engage themselves to pay it for an entire year. Setting the minimum period to 12 months will allow you to let your customers pay month by month but prevent them from cancelling their subscription until they have paid their 12 months. After 12 months, they’ll still pay month by month but will be able to cancel at any time.

No WooCommerce or Easy Digital Download inbuilt solution

Currently it’s not possible to set a minimum term in WooCommerce Subscription or EDD Recurring Payment. What you can do is request upfront payment that covers the minimum period.

For example, if your minimum period is 12 months and the subscription is $20 per month, you’d set up a sign up fee of $240 (12 x $20) and set the monthly cost to $0.

The inconveniences with this are:

  1. The upfront payment can get really high for high-value subscriptions. That could scare off potential customers.
  2. After the minimum period, the customer has to manually re-subscribe and pay the next minimum period again up-front.
  3. There is no way to roll out the subscription automatically period-by-period and give your customer the flexibility to cancel.
  4. In terms of accounting, the $0 per period is not ideal.

A second option is to set up a yearly subscription of $240, but points 1, 2, and 3 above are still relevant to this solution. Plus, you don’t have the same administrative record of each period subscribed by your customer; it’s only one big period.

Minimum Subscription plugin

There is a way to get a minimum period and  avoid all the above inconveniences.

The minimum subscription plugin is a very simple add on for WooCommerce Subscription and EDD recurring payment. It works with PayPal subscription as well as Stripe and other gateways.

The plugin adds a field minimum period in each subscription product. It allows you to set the minimum number of payments required before allowing your customers to cancel their subscription from their Account page.

The advantages:

  • No high up-front cost.
  • You make sure you get the minimum amount for each subscription while spreading the cost.
  • Automatically roll out subscription so your customers don’t have to do anything to carry on their subscription after the minimum period.
  • You give a maximum of flexibility to your customer allowing them to cancel at any time after the minimum term.
  • More accurate accounting records for each period compared to the previous alternative.

Take a look at this minimum subscription plugin for WooCommerce and Easy Digital Download.

Why would you need a minimum term?

It avoids you having to require your customers to pay their subscription in advance at the time of sign up. So the cost is still spread but you still get your minimum buy-in. After the minimum period, subscriptions are set to be automatically renewed period-by-period and your customer will be able to cancel at any time.

A few use cases:

Rental or Service subscription

When renting properties or material, you may want to ensure your client stays for a certain amount of time:  6 months, 12 months, 24 months, etc.

Once your customer has signed the rental/service contract, they’ll have to use and pay for the service or property for the minimum subscription period fixed by you, paying period-by-period (weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.).

Once the fixed period has run out, the rental will carry on, paid period-by-period, until either the end of the subscription you fixed or your customer cancels their subscription.

Magazines and subscription boxes

When you run a magazine or subscription box business your customers could pay issue-by-issue, but you might want to give them a discount if they engage themselves to receive a certain number of issues.

Having a minimum subscription term allows you to make your customers pay issue-by-issue, but also ensures you get a minimum amount of issues per customer, helping you forecast how many items you’ll ship every week or month.

Once the fixed period has run out, the subscription will carry on up to either the end of the subscription you fixed or until your customer cancel their subscription.

Wrapping up

If you’re looking for a solution for a minimum subscription period, it’s probably to ensure a minimum amount from each order and be able to forecast your sales. If your subscription is inexpensive and you don’t mind having a record of nulled recurring payments, then you could just ask for the entire payment upfront to your customer for the minimum period.

But if your subscription is more expensive and the up-front cost would be too much for your customers, then billing your customer period-by-period with a minimum contract period is the key. And there is now a plugin to help you with that. The choice is yours!

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