Cratejoy and WooCommerce are two different e-commerce platforms you could use to launch your subscription box business. Cratejoy is a hosted platform designed specifically for subscription boxes, whereas WooCommerce is a WordPress plugin designed to handle a broad range of e-commerce (including digital products and one time sales). Both have their benefits, and this article will explore which might be best for you.
The Cratejoy Marketplace is one of the key differentiators between the two platforms. Cratejoy allows you to build out your own website to sell subscription boxes, but it also gives you the option to list your subscription box in the Marketplace. For new subscription box businesses, this can really jumpstart growth. Over 500,000 customers visits the Cratejoy Marketplace every month looking to purchase subscription boxes. Cratejoy also does general email marketing, social media marketing, and affiliate marketing on behalf of all sellers in the Marketplace.
With a WooCommece website, you’ll need to build up a customer base completely on your own and manage all the marketing efforts.
To use WooCommerce, you’ll need to have a self-hosted WordPress site. There’s a number of great web hosts to choose from (Siteground, WP Engine, Pagely), and prices range from $29-$99/mo for mid-tier plans. Most hosts have a one-click install for WordPress.
Some hosts allow you to purchase a domain through them which is automatically set to the account, but others require that you purchase it through a third party and point it to your host.
Once WordPress is set up, you’ll need to install the free WooCommerce plugin. To do monthly rebilling, you’ll need to purchase the Subscriptions extension ($199/yr). If you want to accept credit card payments on site (through a processor like Stripe), you’ll also need to install an SSL certificate.
WordPress has a number of free and premium themes to choose from, but you should look for ones that specifically support WooCommerce. Storefront, developed by Woothemes, is a good free option. Premium themes run $49-$99/yr, and custom designed themes generally start around $5,000.
To integrate shipping (calculate shipping prices), there’s a number of extensions to choose from. Shipstation, UPS, FedEx, and USPS are all options.
Google analytics, MailChimp integration, and other third-party integrations are possible with additional plugins.
Cratejoy is a hosted platform, so just sign up for the free 14 day trial to start working on your site. After the trial, it costs $39/mo.
To use a custom domain, you’ll need to purchase one from a provider like name.com or Godaddy (any company that sells domains) and point it to Cratejoy.
Cratejoy has all the functionality for subscription box commerce already baked in: recurring billing, secure shopping cart, analytics, MailChimp integration, shipping integrations, tax rates, and mailing labels.
With Cratejoy, you can choose from a number of free themes.
WordPress is open-source and self-hosted, so the only real limit to customization is your technical ability. If you’re not familiar with PHP, JS, HTML, and CSS- you’ll want to stick with well-supported themes and plugins, and make sure you have a host with quality support and backups. As your business grows, you can hire a developer to help you maintain the site and build features.
Cratejoy offers some flexibility to tweak theme designs and add analytics codes, but you won’t be able to write your own integrations or customize entire parts of the checkout process.
If you need to do one time sales for non-subscription box products or sell digital downloads, WooCommerce would be a better option.
Cratejoy lists their features here. If you want a platform specifically design for subscription box commerce, Cratejoy would likely be a better option.
Ease of Use
E-commerce can be challenging to set up for anyone. You need to set up a website, add products, set shipping rates, make sure your tax compliant, and the list goes on.
However, WooCommerce can be a bit more difficult if you’re trying to set up a subscription box business since you need to track down all the extensions yourself and make sure they work with the theme you’ve chosen.
Cratejoy, on the other hand, has already built or curated the tools you need, and they get regular feedback from the 2,000+ subscription box sellers on the platform.
WordPress doesn’t offer any guaranteed support, though you can ask questions in their forums. WooCommerce has a significant amount of documentation you can read. They offer support for paid extensions.
Cratejoy offers dedicated support through Zendesk.
If you have a WooCommerce site with a lot of traffic, you’ll want to make sure you have a quality host and at least a mid-tier plan. WordPress itself is relatively stable, but a single poorly coded extension can cause major problems on your site. Make sure to test the entire checkout process after any major site or plugin updates.
Cratejoy manages all the infrastructure themselves. There may be occasional minor bugs, but a dedicated team of engineers tests every update and monitors the uptime of the platform.
WordPress hosting can cost $29-99/mo for mid-tier plans. The Subscriptions plugin is $199/yr. You may need to purchase a premium theme or additional WooCommerce extensions depending on your business needs. Stripe and PayPal both charge 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction.
Cratejoy pricing costs $39/mo. A transaction fee of 1.25% + $0.10 is also charged on top of the Stripe fee.
Cratejoy is an all in one subscription commerce platform that includes everything you need to start your own subscription commerce business online. Try it free for 14 days.