One-off payment purchase or monthly subscription

Shop managers want their customers to buy products both with a recurring subscription, charging them each month, each year, each 2 weeks, etc. OR paying only once for the package.

In this tutorial I’ll show you how to allow this easily by using grouped products.
We will sell eBooks, on a monthly base or with a one-off payment.

To follow this tutorial you need WooCommerce and WooCommerce Subscriptions installed and active on your site.

Set up your subscription product

You want your customers to pay monthly to get the eBooks, so you need a subscription product.
Go to Products > Add New and choose the Product Type Simple subscription.

Add the subscription price, choose the length and frequency of the subscription and eventually add a sign-up fee and a free trial.
For the example, I used these settings:

Simple subscription product price settings

I also chose to sold the subscription individually, so customers can’t add more than one of it in their cart in a single purchase (but they can have multiple subscriptions for the same product purchased separately).


You will find the option in the tab Inventory in the product settings.

Set up your one-off payment product

For this product we will use a Simple product type. Go to Products > Add New and create a new Simple product. Configure the price, stock if needed, etc.
Also for this product, I chose to sell it individually.

Merge them together

Now we have two products, but we don’t want customers to go to two different pages to buy them. They must be in the same product page.
You need a third product to do this. Add a new product and choose the product type Grouped.

Once created, go to the tab Linked Products and choose the two products that you created before in the field Grouped products.

Grouped products field

The system is ready to go live. If you visit the grouped product page you should see something like this (using the theme Storefront):

Grouped product front end

Customers will now be able to choose what product to purchase, if a monthly subscription, or a one-off payment product.

One more tip

If you visit your Shop page, you should see all the three products in the list. That’s not the best thing, i’d hide the two base products. So edit them again, and find the Catalog visibility settings on the right of the Edit product page. Selecting Hidden the products won’t show on the catalog page, neither they will show by searching in your site.


Now you are really ready to sell your subscriptions and one-off payment products. Good luck with sales!

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31 responses to “One-off payment purchase or monthly subscription”

  1. Mark Scott Lavin Avatar
    Mark Scott Lavin


    I found this tutorial, but it isn’t quite clarifying what my client wants to do.

    She’s wanting to sell a monthly subscription within which the customer will be able to choose individual artists to receive work from. In other words, the customer buys a 6 month subscription, and gets to add each artist they like as a product within that subscription – but they’re going to pay for the work by each artist as a part of the overall subscription.

    The customer should be able to purchase work by the individual artist as a lone product – or as an item included in the overall subscription.

    We’ve got Woo Subscriptions & Memberships installed, but it’s not obvious how best to set this up.


    Mark Scott Lavin

  2. Great article! Is it possible to link a variable subscription product to a grouped product? I sell products with at least two attributes and various variations. I want to be able to sell these products once-off or on a schedule.

    Hope you can help. Thanks

    1. Hello, Thanks for reading!

      I’m afraid that what you want to do is not possible. WooCommerce does not support variable products/subscriptions in grouped products.

      1. Patrizia Vergassola Avatar
        Patrizia Vergassola

        Hello Nicola,

        how can I sell variable subscriptions product offering a one-off payment purchase?

        Thank you for your help

        1. Hi Patrizia,
          Grouped products do not support variable products, so you can’t really use this tutorial. You can create a variable product and a variable subscription, and link them together in the description, adding a link to the other product.

      2. looks like it IS possible, using another plugin:

  3. Hi, thanks for sharing the tutorial, helped me to quick start.
    I’m to offer mothly suscription service that allows you to receive unlimeted number of goods, from a selected list (depening on store availability), sending one at each time.
    Each suscription has different set of goods associated.
    Each customer may select some of this goods to his list/chart, and even goods may have individual price, but cannot be purchased independently.
    Imagine Netflix… you pay suscription, select a list, and are served 1 film per day.
    can we manage similar behaviour?

  4. Just what I needed thanks so much!

    1. You’re welcome Juzzy!

  5. I followed this set up and like the way it displays product options of one-off purchase or subscription to my customers. I am selling physical products. Is it possible to still have Woocommerce manage stock with this type of set up? Right now it looks like I would have to split my physical stock entries between the subscription product and the one-off product. What I really need is to know how much stock is available for the grouped product. Any thoughts? Thanks for the great tutorial!

    1. Hi Jon,
      I’m sorry but for this kind of products you can’t track the stock on the same products since they are different (one simple and one subscription). To do what you want you have to use a Variable subscription product with two variations, one is the real subscription, eg. $10/month for ever, and another is a fake subscription for $ 100$/day for 1 day.

      This way, if you order the second, it will expire the next day and won’t charge you anything more. It will be like a one-off purchase. The only thing is that you have to change the wording of the price string.

  6. That is a great option!

    I have a test product set up with variables of “One Time Purchase”, “Every Month” and every Other Month”. And the display wording looks good.

    Is there any down side to this type of setup?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Jon,
      No there’s not a down side. It’s fine to use this other way to set it up!

      I prefer the grouped product because it’s easier to set up and does not need any customization for the price string, but if you are able to customize it, you can use a variable product as well!

      1. Hi, I did not understand your explanation very well, after the third product I lost and I do not know how to group them. Thank you.

  7. Maybe my question is a bit off, but I never found an answer to my question: I’m publishing a monthly magazine in digital format (PDF) and I would like to create a “1 year subscription” plan. I could create a subscription product – let’s name is “1 year sub” – which would contain the recent issue – let’s say January 2016 – BUT when somebody subscribes in March he will also get the January 2016 + February 2016 issues…now, this is something I DON’T want to happen. This way somebody who will subscribe in December will get ALL the back issues (Jan-Dec) + 11 more issues? That’s not really good! A subscriber should get the recent issue the 11 more issues if that year… is there a workaround? Thanks!

    1. Hi Poljakov,
      That can’t be done with WooCommerce Subscriptions alone, you’ll need to use other plugins to filter the access to downloads. Like Groups.

      This is something that can’t be discussed in a blog comment, it’s a huge discussion. But that’s a start at least!

  8. Thanks! So, do you think it could be done combining WooCommerce Subscriptions and Groups? I know it’s a huge discussion, but I’m sure it’s not just me who is interested in this topic 🙂

    1. Yes, it can be done with those. But still involves manual updating groups every time there’s a new release.

      It’s not the best option, but it’s the only one I can think about 🙁

      1. Yeah, it could be done with Groups and Groups File Access with manual updating…another option is to delete the preceding month’s issue every time a new release comes out…this way the subscribers would have let’s say 30 days to download the PDF if they want to! Not the best either, but it’s simple. Anyway, I’ll give a shot with groups but I don’t want to complicate things either 😉 thanks Nicola, if you come up with something I’m all ears 🙂

  9. Is there a way we can provide a free months subscription to Users who subscribe for 6 months? The user should be charged each month for the subscription(not one time). If User pays for 6 months he should get 6th month free subscription.
    How could this be done?
    How do we have variable products shown as both one time purchase and subscription product? Can we do the same for variable products too?

  10. hi there,
    I follow the tutorial but instead of the ‘two press buttons selection’ for the two products in the group I had ‘two radio buttons’ and both of the radio button can be selected at the same time even though i have already marked to be sold individually when i created them.

    Could you please help and thanks in advance!

    1. Mmmm I’m not sure about that. Grouped products should not create radio buttons, maybe that is coming from something else that you have installed on the site.

      Please try switching to the theme Storefront and see if you still get the radio buttons.

      I also suggest to disable all non Woo-related plugins and check again. If you can’t reproduce it, enable the plugins one by one and see which one is causing the radio buttons to appear.

    2. Hi Mike i have the same problem. Have you resolved this. Can your share.

  11. The process for grouping has changed a little bit since this article was written.

    After creating the Grouped Product, select “Linked Products” and add your two products to the Grouped Product. In order version of Woocommerce it was done the other way around. You’ll also need to populate the Grouped Product will all description, images, etc.

  12. Hello Nicola,

    When I try to edit the base products (‘Simple Product’ and and ‘Simple Subscription), I don’t see the ‘Grouping’ option in the Linked Products tab. My only options are ‘Upsells’ and ‘Cross-Sells’.


    1. Hi Sean,
      WooCommerce changed the way grouped products are managed. You can find the field now in the Linked Products tab on the Grouped product:

  13. Hi Nicola,

    Thank you for this tutorial! Solved a number of issues… Im not sure if this has been answered but I have grouped 2 products (exactly as you have outlined above). However, each product has an attribute of a day of the week. Even though I have “attributes visible on product page” checked off the drop down to choose the day of the week is no longer displayed. Do I need another plug in to manage this or do you know of a solution?


    1. Hi Lindsay,
      Do you expect the attribute to show on the grouped product?

      If yes, it will not show. The attribute is on the child product, not on the grouped one so it won’t show there.

  14. Great tutorial! But I have 2000+ products in my store, and I just want to give customers the option to purchase 1 time or to opt into receiving that product at a regular frequency (like every week, month, etc.). It’s not realistic to go through this process for each product, though. So how can I offer this subscription or renewal option to my customers?

  15. Hi Lindsay,
    I’m also getting a checkbox for subscription. Any help as to how I get rid of this would be great. Any chance Woo has the ability for a single product drop-down offering a subscription? Thanks.

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