Client commissioned us to design and implement a paywall solution on their two WordPress based news websites. They have previously used Pelcro, but were looking to upgrade.

Solution requirements were quite something:

  • Ability to sell multi-seat subscriptions (e.g. company buys 5 seat for 5 employees where each employee gets own login details)
  • IP based subscriptions (e.g. university buys a subscriptions for all students accessing the website from school’s own computer network)
  • Ability to sell a single subscription that provides access to two news websites
  • Ability to offer 2 free articles per week before requiring users to register, but exclude premium articles from the free allowance (i.e. some articles require paid subscription regardless if user still has free article allowance credits)
  • Tiered access (different subscriptions to access different parts of the website)
  • Ability to import customer details from Pelcro (and Stripe), while keeping all the billing details (i.e. card details) in place so as to minimize disruption
  • Ability to fully customise transaction emails and invoices (receipts)
  • SalesForce Pardot CRM integration
  • Works with WordPress

In addition to the above, requirements list contained general things like:

  • Fast loading time (so as not to hurt website performance)
  • Little to no staff training
  • Quick turnaround
  • Low price
  • Good vendor track record
  • Discount coupons
  • SaaS product

We did an extensive search of available solutions and narrowed down the list to two:

  • Zephyr – App owned by Zuora, a USD 1.2b NYSE listed software giant
  • Wallkit – Developed by a small obscure software company, with a customer service based in Odessa, Ukraine (where they have a power generator and a very well shielded basement according to our contact)

Zephyr Evaluation

We first went in deep with Zephyr. After numerous meetings with their account manager and solution engineers, we were provided with a solution outline, a quote and an implementation timeline of 30+ working days.

Communication with the vendor went smoothly, slowly, with lots of emphasis on marketing. It took several meetings before we even got a glimpse at the system itself. Communication with Zephyr team was as one would expect from a NYSE-listed vendor: Lots of meetings, slow and deliberate.

Our impression was that Zephyr is a good product, but with a very narrow focus (it is a paywall – nothing more, nothing less: billing, subscription management, transaction email, … all to be handled by a 3rd party apps like ChargeBee) – and very expensive (in terms of service fee and implementation costs).

Zephyr wouldn’t offer a trial account and required 3 year commitment.

Wallkit Evaluation

Communication with Wallkit team was very different. We got an immediate meeting with a company founder Tim. He personally explained how system works and has demonstrated all of the features we were interested in.

Wallkit is a all-in-one paywall solution: While Zephyr requires 3rd party apps to handle transactional emails and subscription management, Wallkit does all these things for you and does them pretty well. All you need is a WordPress website, Stripe and Wallkit and you’re good to go!

Wallkit pricing is very transparent (and is more then 10x cheaper than Zephyr).

We were interested but a bit hesitant due to lack of vendor track record. Tim provided us with a trial account which we used to demonstrate to the client how the the paywall would actually work and what their customers would see – and we were able to do this in a matter of days.

Our next concern was the lack of well structured documentation. Wallkit documentation is more like a collection of resolved support tickets then a proper documentation you expect to see accompanying a mature product.

However Wallkit “felt” good, seemed good value and required only 30 day commitment, so with client’s blessings we gave it a shot.

Wallkit, 12 months later

After 12 months of using Wallkit on two websites, both client and ourselves are happy with the choice. Lack of documentation is still evident. However to a developer, Wallkit app is quite intuitive and we are able to get by easy enough. When we get stuck, Wallkit is there to provide help via Slack and email. They respond in timely fashion.

Wallkit does not give an impression of a well polished mature product. You can find kinks in the armour everywhere you look.

However, so far we had no service outage. Core functionality works without a hitch. Client is making money. All is well.

Benefit of dealing with smaller vendor is that each customer is important: We were able to get Wallkit to introduce some new features into the system to accommodate our client needs (good luck getting Zuora to do that).

Experience has thought us to take vendor claims of integration with 3rd party system withs a grain of salt. If for no other reason than that client’s integration requirements vary quite a bit. We hit a wall when integrating with SalesForce due to client’s specific setup, but we were able to get around this by coding a custom integration using Wallkit’s API and webhooks.


While Wallkit is not without a fault, we honestly do not know of a better paywall solution for a WordPress website!