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5 ways to take payments for your products with WooCommerce

Written by Nicole Kohler on May 20, 2016 Blog, How to sell online, Taking payments.

With traditional eCommerce, the exchange of money and goods is simple: a customer pays, and the store owner ships. Easy, right?

But this doesn’t have to be the only way you accept payments for the products you sell online. Taking immediate payments might not work if you want to offer pre-orders. And taking only one payment won’t be suitable for customers who want to order something via subscription.

If you’re only accepting payments for your products the “traditional” way, you might want to consider expanding your options. Here are five ways to take payments with WooCommerce, and how to add them to your store.

Immediately, when a customer makes a purchase

As we already mentioned, this near-immediate exchange of money and products is what most stores offer. It’s also built right into WooCommerce core, giving you the power to take payments via Simplify Commerce or PayPal Standard as soon as you set up.

With either of these options, or any of the other payment gateways that are compatible with WooCommerce, you can allow customers to add items to their cart, pay for them, and receive a one-time order from you.

It's the traditional eCommerce model we're all familiar with: the customer pays, you ship, everyone is happy. This works for most situations... but not all!
It’s the traditional eCommerce model we’re all familiar with: the customer pays for the products they want, you ship them out, and everyone is happy. This works for most situations… but not all!

You can add new payment methods or configure your existing ones by visiting WooCommerce > Settings > Checkout. From this section of the WooCommerce settings, you can choose which payment processing options are enabled, and which order they display in during checkout.

Drag and drop your payment options to reorder them, and click to turn them on or off.
Drag and drop your payment options to reorder them, and click to turn them on or off.

This traditional payment model works for many stores… but it might not work for all products. So that’s why we’re going to explore these other four models, and the situations in which you might want to make them available.

Before you have the product on hand, via pre-order

Most of the products (or even services) you sell via WooCommerce are those you likely have on hand. But you often know about new items that are in production, on their way from a vendor, or otherwise about to become available before you have stock.

If you have the product pages ready for these upcoming items, why wait to show them? WooCommerce Pre-Orders gives you the power to put upcoming products on display, giving customers a chance to reserve items and have their credit cards charged automatically when stock arrives.

Configure your products with this extension to enable pre-orders -- and automatic billing upon the fulfillment of them.
Configure your products with this extension to enable pre-orders — and automatic billing upon the fulfillment of them.

Once the pre-ordered products are released, your customers’ credit cards will be charged, preventing them from paying anything until the item they’re waiting for has actually shipped.

There’s also the option to charge a pre-order fee if you prefer. This isn’t suitable for every store or product type, but could come in handy for some business owners who offer services or want to use pre-orders to reserve slots or virtual products before they’re even created.

Over and over again, for recurring product subscriptions

Some of your products are awesome. It’s okay, you’re allowed to brag. Let’s face it — you wouldn’t be in business if you didn’t do what someone else didn’t, right?

For some online stores, their products are awesome especially because they can be enjoyed over and over again. Think about coffee roasters, breweries, or any kind of food store. Or consider even companies that have often-replenished goods like cleaning supplies.

For these businesses, it’s much more convenient for their customers to automatically receive orders of their favorite products, rather than having to come back to order over and over again. And along with that comes a need for those payments to be made automatically as well.

If your customers LOVE your coffee, you might want to collect payments from them monthly -- and ship bags of beans to them every few weeks to match.
If your customers LOVE your coffee, you might want to collect payments from them monthly — and ship bags of beans to them every few weeks to match.

WooCommerce Subscriptions allows you to create and manage products with recurring payments, giving you the power to automate the process of accepting payments from customers for items they want each month, every few weeks, or on any other schedule.

With this extension and payment model, customers can pay you on a regular basis without needing to come back to your store. It allows them to regularly receive orders of the products they love, and establishes a great stream of recurring revenue for you.

Set up your customers' payments on the recurring schedule you choose -- it's less hassle for everyone, and they keep getting the products they crave.
Set up your customers’ payments on the recurring schedule you choose — it’s less hassle for everyone, and they keep getting the products they crave.

Note that you’ll need a payment gateway that supports subscriptions and automatic billing to use this extension — here’s a list of the ones we recommend.

With a payment plan and an optional deposit

Some of the products you sell with WooCommerce might be unconventional. Perhaps they’re expensive computer or server components. Or maybe they’re reservations for event spaces or catering services to be offered at a future date.

Asking your customers to pay 100% up front isn’t always comfortable — for either you or them. After all, your payment might be dependent upon actually completing the work. Your customers might even have the opportunity to cancel, reschedule, or alter their order with you.

Enter WooCommerce Deposits. This extension allows you to create custom payment plans or deposit options on (only) the products you specify. So if you want to require a 10% deposit on that event space you rent out, or offer a payment plan on that pricey Linux server, you can do just that.

With WooCommerce Deposits, you can allow customers to pay for items a bit at a time, or place deposits on pricer goods if you prefer.
With WooCommerce Deposits, you can allow customers to pay for items a bit at a time, or place deposits on pricer goods if you prefer.

Customers will still have the option to pay in full, as you can see above. However, this is a great alternative for businesses that offer unconventional goods or services that typically require any kind of early deposit. It’s also great for customers who might not have access to a credit card!

And finally… not at all!

This sounds a little counterintuitive, right? If we’re talking about ways to take payments for your products, listing a method that starts with “not taking payments at all” doesn’t sound like it belongs here.

But some store owners actually don’t want or need to take payments with WooCommerce. This might apply if they are using their store as an online catalog, and prefer to meet customers in person to make the final sale or accept payments. It might also be the case for local store owners with fragile products that simply can’t be shipped.

Not keen to ship your fragile flowers? Simply use WooCommerce as a catalog and collect payments in person.
Not keen to ship your fragile flowers? Simply use WooCommerce as a catalog and collect payments in person.

This is also the case for some folks who offer their knowledge online in the form of free guides, eBooks, or videos. They might ask for your email address in exchange for a download (and then pitch you paid services via email), but the download itself is free. You can use WooCommerce to “sell” these digital goods just as much as you can anything else.

If you don’t want to accept payments with WooCommerce directly, you don’t have to. If you only want to accept them at your physical store, you can use an extension like Catalog Visibility Options to cleanly remove all the eCommerce functionality.

You can even hide the product prices if you like.
You can even hide the product prices if you like.

Or if you’ll be sharing free digital goods, WooCommerce will automatically simplify the checkout process for these items. But you can always simplify it even further, if needed, by following this SkyVerge tutorial.

No matter what your reasons are for not taking payments online, you can continue to use WooCommerce’s flexibility and full functionality to create a fantastic store… and profitable business.

There are at least five ways to take payments for your products — why limit yourself to just one?

Asking your shoppers to pay up front for an item is usually expected. But it isn’t the best fit for every store, product, or customer.

If you’re only taking payments for your products via this traditional method, why limit yourself? Try out deposits, subscriptions, or another idea offered in this post to better suit the needs of your customers… and perhaps make a little more money in the process.

Have any questions about the five payment options we covered here? The comments are open and we’d be happy to hear from you.

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4 Responses

  1. kimhak
    May 21, 2016 at 4:35 pm #

    Thank for sharing these 5 payment tips.

  2. Fred
    May 21, 2016 at 11:21 pm #

    It’s good to know that most payment gateways will require an SSL certificate, SSL certificates will require a VPS or dedicated server unless your host is special and let you run it through their server which they almost certainly wont.

  3. Natascha
    June 1, 2016 at 7:08 am #

    I still miss a payment solution. I cant make a sales straight away because I have to check availability first, if I have the time to produce the item (e.g wedding cake) I will issue an invoice (PDF) and the client will pay via wire transfer. Only after receiving the payment the production starts. Anyone got an idea how to make this within Woocommerce? Today I’ll do the PDF invoice outside of woo.
    The PDF invoice plugins are made for shipping an invoice with physical goods.

    • Nicole Kohler
      June 5, 2016 at 10:01 am #

      Hi Natascha,

      You could perhaps use Zapier’s WooCommerce integration to handle this properly. We wrote a post a little while ago on how to trigger automated activities that depend on steps like invoice production, etc: https://woocommerce.com/2016/02/ecommerce-automation-ideas/

      Essentially, you could set up Zapier and WooCommerce to:
      1. Upon a new order from a client, automatically issue an invoice to the client (via one of Zapier’s many invoice application integrations)
      2. Upon payment of the invoice via wire transfer, notify you that the order status has changed (via WooCommerce)
      3. Proceed to production of the wedding cake or other item

      I think this would be a good fit for you 🙂

      If you have any further questions about how to set this up or get this working, do let me know or feel free to open a “before you buy” ticket, we’d be absolutely happy to make some suggestions for you or explain in more detail about how to set up the integrations with Zapier. It’s a big time saver and very helpful for stores like yours.

      Cheers!

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