Do you want to create a members-only WooCommerce store?
A members-only online store can only be accessed by registered or paying members. Other website visitors who aren’t members won’t be able to purchase your products.
In this article, we’ll show you how to create a members-only WooCommerce store, step by step.
Why Create a Members-Only WooCommerce Store?
A members-only WooCommerce store is a type of online store where users have to become a member to view and purchase your products.
This can be done through a paid subscription or simply requiring users to become members before accessing the store.
You can make your entire store private or create VIP products specifically for your members.
There are all kinds of reasons you’d want to create a members-only online store:
- You need a private area of your store for selling wholesale goods
- You only want to sell products to paying members
- You want to offer different products to different membership levels
- You want to offer additional exclusive products to your members
With that said, let’s show you how you can create your own members-only WooCommerce store, step by step.
Below are the steps that we’ll cover to help you make a members-only WooCommerce store.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Step 1. Getting Started with a Members-Only WooCommerce Store
You’ll need the following to create a private members-only WooCommerce store from scratch.
- A domain name. This will be the address of your online store (e.g. wpbeginner.com).
- A WordPress hosting account. This is where your website files will be stored.
- An SSL certificate. This allows you to securely accept payments online.
- An eCommerce plugin. This is what you will use to sell products and create a store.
- A membership plugin. This lets you control privacy settings in your online store.
Normally, web hosting costs $7.99 per month, a domain name starts at $14.99 per year, and an SSL certificate costs around $69.99 per year.
This can be a big investment when you’re just starting a new online store.
Luckily, Bluehost has agreed to offer our readers a big 60% discount on web hosting, plus a free domain name and SSL certificate.
Basically, you can get started for as low as $2.75 per month.
Simply click on the Bluehost button below, and the discount will automatically be applied.
Once you’ve purchased hosting, make sure you check out our step by step guide on how to start an online store.
It will show you how to build your WooCommerce store from scratch, choose a WooCommerce theme, add products, and more.
Step 2. Choosing a WooCommerce Membership Plugin
Once your WooCommerce store is set up, you need a way to restrict access to your store based on membership levels. You can make your entire store private or only make specific products and product categories available to members.
If you want to create a members-only online store with access control, subscription plans, multi-level subscriptions, built-in payment options, and more, then you’ll need a feature-rich membership plugin like MemberPress.
It has all the features you need to create a members-only online store and integrates with all the tools you need to grow your online store.
Step 3. Setting Up Your Members-Only Online Store
We’ll be using MemberPress to set up a members-only WooCommerce store.
The first thing you need to do is install and activate the MemberPress plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.
Upon activation, navigate to MemberPress » Settings and click the ‘License’ menu option and enter your license key.
Then, click the ‘Activate License Key’ button.
This information can be found under your account on the MemberPress website. You’ll configure the plugin settings on this screen too.
Step 4. Adding Payment Methods to Your Membership Store
Next, you’ll want to add a payment gateway, so you can accept payments on your membership site. You can also create a free membership level if you don’t want to charge all your members to sign up.
To do this, select the ‘Payments’ tab and then click the ‘Add Payment Method’ button.
This brings up a drop down where you can choose your preferred payment method and connect to different payment processors. Simply select a payment method from the ‘Gateway’ drop down and provide the required credentials.
MemberPress supports popular WooCommerce payment gateways like PayPal (Standard, Express, and Pro), Stripe, and Authorize.net out of the box.
If you want to add another payment method, then click the ‘Add Payment Method’ button again and follow the same steps.
Once you’re finished, click the ‘Update Options’ button at the bottom of the screen to save your payment settings.
Step 5. Creating a Subscription Plan for Your WooCommerce Store
Now you need to create a subscription plan so new members can subscribe and access your store.
For example, you can create plans with different pricing options, access to different products, and more. You can even create a free membership level where users can browse products in your store, but not checkout unless they sign up.
To create a new membership plan, go to MemberPress » Memberships and then click the ‘Add New’ button.
Next, you need to give your membership plan a name and enter plan details below.
In the ‘Membership Terms’ section, you can set the price, type of billing, billing interval, and expiration for the plan.
In the example above, we’ve created a lifetime membership plan. So, members pay once and get access to our store forever.
Below the post editor, you’ll find a membership options meta box where you can customize permissions and membership options for this plan.
Once you’re satisfied with your plan, click the ‘Publish’ button to make it live.
If you need to create multiple subscription plans, simply repeat the process above.
Step 6. Making Your WooCommerce Store Private
Now that your membership plugin is set up and subscription plans are created, it’s time to make your WooCommerce store private.
MemberPress has powerful features that let you restrict access to your WooCommerce store based on membership level.
For example, you can make your entire store private to members, create members-only products, and even restrict access to entire categories of products.
To set up rules, navigate to MemberPress » Rules and then click the ‘Add New’ button to add a new rule.
This page lets you set different conditions for each membership plan.
In this example, we’ve made all of the products in the store private unless a user is subscribed to the ‘Premium’ plan.
You can also create more specific rules to restrict individual products, products with specific categories and tags, and more.
Next, scroll down to the ‘Unauthorized Access’ meta box. Here you can choose what your visitors will see when trying to view your products without a membership.
First, select ‘Custom’ from the ‘Unauthorized Message’ drop down, then enter your message into the box.
You can also display a login form, so users can log in if they already have an account.
Simply select the ‘Show’ option from the ‘Login Form’ drop down.
Once you’re finished, click the ‘Save Rule’ button to save your settings.
In the example above, when users click the sign up link they’ll be taken to a registration page for the ‘Premium’ plan.
If you need to create more rules, then simply follow the same process as above.
Making Your WooCommerce Shop Page Private
Now, your WooCommerce products will be private, but your shop page will still be visible, so you’ll want to make this members-only as well.
If you don’t make the shop page private, your users will see a shop page with no products.
To do this, you’ll create a new rule, just like above.
In the ‘Content & Access’ meta box, select ‘A Single Page’ from the drop down and then enter your shop page title into the box.
Then, click the ‘Save Rule’ button to save your settings.
Now, when visitors try to access your products or shop page, they’ll be asked to either sign up or log in if they’re already a member.
Step 7. Add Sign Up and Login Forms to Your Store
Now that your membership store is set up, you can give users an additional way to log in to their accounts, so they can access the store.
The easiest way to do this is to add a login form to a WordPress widget area.
To do this, navigate to Appearance » Widgets and click the ‘Plus’ add block icon.
Then, search for ‘MemberPress login’ and click the block.
This will automatically add the membership login form to your sidebar widget.
To make your login form live, click the ‘Update’ button.
You can add the membership login block to any widget area of your WordPress site.
To learn more, see our guide on how to add and use widgets in WordPress.
To see your login form live, log out of the WordPress admin area and visit your online store.
Step 8. Growing Your Members-Only Online Store
Now that you have a private members-only WooCommerce store, it’s time to look at a few ways to get more traffic to your store and grow your business.
Luckily, since you’re using WooCommerce and MemberPress, there are all kinds of powerful tools you can use to get more traffic, optimize your store, and more.
If you’re looking for even more plugins, then take a look at our picks of the best WooCommerce plugins for your store.
We hope this article helped you learn how to create a members-only WooCommerce store. You may also want to see our guide on how to create a free business email address and our expert picks of the best live chat software for small businesses.