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BIG NEWS: No More Multi Site Licenses for WooCommerce Plugins

🚨 No More WooCommerce Plugins will be sold with Multiple Site Licenses.
What are your thoughts? 🤷‍♀️🤷‍♂️
And what do you need to know❓

 Howdy—I lead the WooCommerce business at Automattic, and just wanted to quickly chime in here.

It is correct that we have removed the bulk license discounts for new purchases—however:

If you are currently subscribed to any of these bulk packs, *your subscription will renew at your original purchase price (you keep the discount)*. This change only relates to new purchases. We’re in the process of emailing all impacted customers to share the same info.

Why the change? It’s pretty simple—only about 5% of our customers found value in these discounts, but it was adding confusion and friction in the purchase/upgrade flows for the other 95% of customers. It just wasn’t serving its intended purpose, and worse, was making things harder for the majority of people. I hope if anyone can appreciate efforts to optimize purchase flows, it’s this group!

Paul Maiorana

Do you think it was a smart move for WooCommerce to make these changes with no announcement?

It does seem like there’s a good chance that more people would have upgraded to multi-site licenses had they known ahead of time that this change was coming.

AJ Morris, our friend from iThemes, make a really interesting argument and I’ll just copy and paste it here for everyone to read

What would you define as “cheap host” because of the fact that you are running eCommerce, you have to consider what type of hosting you have (which is another bag of worms I’m not intentionally opening).

That said, I’m gonna open it. You have two instances here. If you are doing client work with the ability to put them on a maintenance plan you could use Cloudways or something similar. This type of hosting starts at $10/month, but I believe any eCommerce site making sales (or wanting to) is quickly going to surpass that. You have to consider different aspects of running a site, speed being the biggest (like in some cases you can’t cache everything…installing a caching plugin for speed improvements is not an option here).

So that leaves you with automatically paying more than what I would consider “cheap hosting.” You are looking at paying $40-60 to get started with Woo.

But my point isn’t to talk simply about the hosting. (I work for a host, helped build the first Managed Woo hosting, so I have the creds to talk about it).

Instead, my point is this. With Shopify, you have to consider all the monthly costs. Almost every time I build a site for a client, I needed 3-5 apps to build out their store. I was no longer paying the $29/month for Shopify (and really, I was likely moving to the base price of $79/month). I was paying closer to $200-300 per month for Shopify because of the monthly costs for all the apps needed to run/maintain the site.

Comparing this to Woo it breaks down similarly. If I’m adding 4-5 paid plugins to a client’s site, I can likely give them discounts because most plugins have multiple tier licensing, even unlimited licensing. I can pass savings on to my clients by buying unlimited licenses to the plugins. So really the 4-5 paid plugins I would need to install on Woo sites goes down to 1-2 that I might need for a specific project (say subscriptions or memberships, but there’s alternatives to the Woo “official” plugins, ones that do have multiple tiered licensing options).

If I’m at the point where I need to have a client pay for 1-2 paid plugins, when you break down the costs to run a site, it’s at least HALF of what I would do with Shopify.

It’s easy for us to say a $500 yearly license seems expensive. But if you break it down, if you talk through it, in the long run, it’s actually cheaper for the client to still go with Woo than it is with Shopify.

AJ Morris

As many people know I have used both WooCommerce and Shopify, & Shopify’s prices normally do rack up to well over a few hundred dollars per month. And that’s every month. Every month you’re paying 300 to 400 hundred dollars just to get the same functionality that you would need from a comparable WooCommerce site.

And while that may not be the exact point of this post it is an important aspect to consider.

So let’s get back to the point of this discussion which is to completely remove multi-site licenses from WooCommerce and to do it without any announcement whatsoever.

In the Facebook comment Paul mentions that only about “5% of our customers” found value in these discounts. But I’m wondering if he actually surveyed all of the active WooCommerce store owners to determine that amount.

Many store owners that I know of have multiple site instances for several plugins. There’s an individual that I can immediately think of off the top of my head which sells softball gear. The store owner has multiple sites and each one of them are using some of the same similar plugins and they were purchased with a multi-site license.

I’m not quite sure where Paul arrived at the conclusion that multisite licenses were “adding confusion and friction” but that might not be reality. I’m not in the least bit saying that multisite licenses might not have some element of confusion. But to state that “95% of customers” were confused by multi-site licenses is a bit of a stretch for anyone to imagine being grounded in reality.

So what does this mean moving forward?

Well for all of those using product add-ons or the USPS plugin, or the checkout field editor or the CSV import suite, and any other plugin for WooCommerce, this now means that each and every site will have to have its own purchase of the plugin – every plugin! – every site!

I do think that WooCommerce could have made a substantial amount of revenue if they would have made this announcement ahead of time. Something like “Hey, we are going to remove the multi-site license if you would like to buy a plug-in grab it now!” would have probably resulted in increased number of purchases for the plugins like Subscriptions and Memberships, and Bookings.

However, since this has been done without any announcement at all, it does somewhat put WooCommerce again in a bit of a momentary negative light. And unfortunately some of these situations seem to have a slight bit of “modification in retrospect” once it becomes more publicly known.

Are we going to keep using WooCommerce? Of course.

But do we need to reprice our budget for some of our stores? Absolutely.

There is a wonderful 11 year old who wanted me to spin up a new WooCommerce site for her to sell things and raise money for her summer camp. And of course we can all think of thousands of illustrations and examples…. However I now know that my license for product add-ons will not work for that store and I need to budget in an additional $49 for that plug in.

Is it a huge deal breaker for me personally? No. I’ve been doing this for 10 years.

Is it however a questionable mismanagement in handling this change from WooCommerce’s side?

Absolutely!

However, it is what it is and we’re not in charge.

But moving forward we all need to know and be aware as we build and budget WooCommerce stores that multi-site licenses are no longer available.

COMMENT! (b/c: ‘ya never know. someone important might be reading those comments and reconsider)

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5 thoughts on “BIG NEWS: No More Multi Site Licenses for WooCommerce Plugins”

  1. I am going to change some of my sites over to EDD. I bought a lifetime license in their Black Friday sale, so I’m just going to add on the plugins for physical merchandise and make some of my Woo sites into EDD sites. They work very similar. So it’s a net loss from me.

  2. I have never heard anyone saying „multi site licenses confuse me, please remove them!“ Everyone starts with one website. Why would people want to pay the full price again and again for the same software for every additional site? I wouldn’t be surprised if revenue actually goes down for Woocommerce because people feel cheated by this move (no announcement ahead of change). More people might consider using GPLDL now.

    1. “….everyone starts with one website.” While that is true, a good portion of WooCommerce Store owners actually have several sites. Hence the need and desire for multi-site licenses to be sold actually creates more revenue for WooCommerce.com.
      Now, being faced with having to *ONLY* purchase one license for every site, a lot of WooCommerce store owners that I’ve talked with are simply re-using the same plugin on multiple sites. Each time there is an update, they simply download it once, then upload the update on their other sites as well.
      Savvy, smart, and successful store owners will usually create several sites – especially those in the dropshipping business and niche apparel arena (think Printify / Printful sellers)!

      So, why lose revenue from multi-site licenses? ……especially when those purchasing multi-site licenses are *MUCH MORE LIKELY* to *NOT* need additional support? It really doesn’t make any business sense at all!

      I’ve had a multi-site license (Professional $249) to AffiliateWP for years. That license is good for UNLIMITED SITES!
      So, as opposed to the per site license which is $99, I have now paid Pippin and his team a higher amount!!
      Yet I don’t think that I have had to add to the “support costs” at all. Hell, I probably haven’t opened a ticket with AffiliateWP since 2014!

    1. You’re right. It is disappointing! One would think that a well crafted announcement would have gained more revenue. Something like, “Multisite licenses will be discontinued soon. Hey if you want a 25 site license to something like Product Add Ons, get it now!”
      Otherwise folks are simply going to start going over to CodeCanyon or any of the other thousands of places selling plugins to get the same compatibility.
      Here’s one that I’ve been using for years: https://iconicwp.com/products/

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