A WooCommerce “Name Your Price” plugin allows you to be flexible in how much you charge for your products – to such an extent that you let your customers define their own price.
In this article, we’re going to look at multiple ways you can use “name your price” in a WooCommerce product, including:
- WooCommerce name your price (also called product open pricing)
- WooCommerce donation
- WooCommerce pay your bill
- WooCommerce pay what you want
We’ll accompany each example with a working demo product so you can see it in action.
Furthermore, at the end of the article, we’ll look at some of the reasoning behind using pay what you want pricing models and some creative ideas for using them in your own site.
Our examples will all share some common features:
- Customers will define their own price for a product
- You can set minimum and maximum price ranges, if you wish, or leave the price completely open-ended
- The total price field for the product will update as the customer enters the price
Additionally, some of our examples will have extra features, including:
- Users will be able to define part of the price, not the whole price
- You can use conditional logic to display name your own fields under certain circumstances, e.g. if the user has selected a specific option
- If you’re allowing users to define part of the price, you can opt to make this a required field or not
- You can set the amount as a percentage of the product price
- You can choose whether to set the amount as a fixed fee or per-item cost
In this article
Use the following menu to navigate around the page.
- WooCommerce name your price features
- WooCommerce Name Your Price plugin
- How to create a WooCommerce name your price product
- How to create a donation product in WooCommerce
- How to accept donations via a WooCommerce product
- How to create a "pay your bill" product in WooCommerce
- How to create a name your price field as a percentage of the product price
- How to set a name your price field as a fixed fee in the cart
- Why use Pay What You Want?
- Ideas for using WooCommerce Name Your Price products
- Further considerations for open pricing products
- What about Mark Off Your Own Price?
All our examples use the WooCommerce Product Add Ons Ultimate plugin. This plugin allows your customers to define their own price for your products (plus a lot of other options too).
Install and activate Add-Ons Ultimate
For all the examples in this article, your first step in creating your Name Your Price product is to install the Add-Ons Ultimate plugin. There are full installation steps in this article.
Create your product
If you haven’t already done so, add a new WooCommerce product. Enter 0 as the price and in the ‘Price label display’ field, select ‘Hide price’. This will hide the price label that usually appears under the product title.
Let’s create a simple name your price product in WooCommerce. In our first example, we’re offering a piece of graphic design for sale and we’re allowing the customer to name their own price.
How to add a WooCommerce name your price field
To add a name your price field to your WooCommerce product:
- Click the Product Add-Ons tab in the Product data section
- Click ‘Add Group’ and ‘Add Field’
- Select ‘Name Your Price’ as the ‘Field Type’
- Enter some text in the ‘Field Label’
That’s how to add a Name Your Price field to a WooCommerce product.
We’ve now created our name your price (open pricing) product in WooCommerce. Check out the demo product here.
Setting minimum and maximum values for name your price products
Let’s say that we want to specify a minimum or maximum price that we’ll accept. To do so, just enter a value in the ‘Min Value’ or ‘Max Value’ field.
There are many reasons why you might want to have a donation product in your WooCommerce store. Many charities and non-profit organisations accept donations through their websites, for instance.
In our example, we’ll create a product where the user can specify the amount of their donation and add an optional message, if they like.
To create a WooCommerce donation product:
- Create a product following the guidance above
- In the ‘Product Add-Ons’ panel, click ‘Add Group’ then ‘Add Field’
- Select ‘Name Your Price’ as the Field Type
- Enter a Field Label, e.g. ‘Donation value’
Note that we checked the ‘Required Field’ option: this is to ensure that users must enter an amount for the donation before trying to add the product to the cart.
Don’t forget that you can specify minimum and maximum amounts using the ‘Min Value’ and ‘Max Value’ fields.
Add a message to accompany the donation
To add a field where users can enter their own message to accompany the donation:
- Click ‘Add Field’
- Choose ‘Textarea’ as the Field Type
- Enter a Field Label
You can view the demo product here.
A slight variation of our WooCommerce donation product is to accept a donation as an additional option to a standard product.
For instance, when a user purchases one of your products, you might like to give them the option to make an additional donation on top of the product price. Let’s say we’re offering users the ability to make a contribution to a specified charity after they purchase one of our products.
Let’s say that we’re selling a book through our site and we’d like to offer its purchasers the chance to make a charity donation when they buy the book.
To accept an additional donation when a customer purchases one of our products:
- Create your product as normal (unlike the examples above, your product won’t have a zero value)
- Add a Name Your Price field as in the examples above
You can see the demo product here. Note how the product total, next to the ‘Add to cart’ button, updates when you enter an amount in the donation field.
How to add a name your own field in WooCommerce using conditional logic
If you like, you can choose to only display a Name Your Own field if certain other field conditions are met.
Let’s take our example above of a product with an optional donation field and extend it so that the field is hidden initially. It’s only revealed if certain conditions are met.
To add a name your own field using conditional logic:
- In the ‘Product Add-Ons’ panel, click ‘Add Group’ then ‘Add Field’
- Select ‘Checkbox’ as the Field Type
- Add a Field Label, e.g. ‘Make an additional donation?’
- Click ‘Add Field’ to create a second type
- Select ‘Name Your Price’ as the Field Type
- Enter a Field Label, e.g. ‘Amount’
- Add a condition to show the ‘Amount’ field only if the checkbox is checked
You can view the demo for this product here.
Let’s say you’re a freelancer (or any other type of business that regularly invoices clients). Often your client will pay you via a bank transfer but it’s a nice touch to offer them the option to pay online.
To create a WooCommerce pay your bill product:
- Create a new product called “Pay your bill”
- Set the price to 0 and choose ‘Hide price’ in ‘Price label display’ as with the first example product
- Click ‘Add Group’ and ‘Add Field’
- Add your Name the Price field and label it ‘Amount’ (or similar)
- Click ‘Add Field’ again
- Create a Text field and label it ‘Reference ID’ (or whatever makes sense for you)
Note that I checked the ‘Required Field’ option on both fields. This will ensure that your clients enter the amount and the reference ID before adding the product to the cart.
So now, you’ll be able to direct your clients to a page on your website where they can pay your invoices online. They just check out through WooCommerce as they would any other product.
See the demo product here.
In all our examples to this point, we’ve allowed using to set the product price directly, e.g. by entering the actual figures in dollars that they want to pay.
But what if you want your customers to choose how much extra they want to pay as a percentage? We can do this easily.
To create a name your price field as a percentage of the product price:
- Create a product and enter a price (not 0)
- On the ‘Product Add-Ons’ tab, click ‘Add Group’ then ‘Add Field’
- Choose ‘Name Your Price’ as the field type
- Enter a Field Label and any additional parameters you might need, like Min or Max Value (set the ‘Min Value’ to 0 to avoid negative amounts)
- Select the ‘Percentage’ checkbox
Now, when users enter a figure into the amount field, the cost will be calculated as a percentage of the product price.
See the demo product here.
In all the examples so far, the amount the customer enters in the name your price field will get multiplied by the quantity of product they buy.
In most cases, e.g. for donation products, you’ll probably want to specify that the product can only be bought in single quantities. However, you might want to allow the customer to buy multiple products but only to charge them the donation value once.
To do this, set up your product and name your price field as above. You just need to select the ‘Flat Rate’ checkbox to ensure that any amount the customer enters in this field will only get charged once, no matter what quantity of product they buy.
You can see the example product here, the same one we used for the additional donation amount. The user can buy as many copies of the book as they want – their additional donation will only get charged once.
Okay, so that’s all our example products. Now let’s take a look at the rationale for using Pay What You Want for your WooCommerce products.
Pay What You Want or Pay What You Wish (PWYW) is a pricing model where customers are able to set their own prices for products.
This can mean that customers could pay nothing for your product; it could even mean that they pay more than the expected value.
Pay What You Want (PWYW) can seem counter-intuitive. After all, who would pay full price for your product when they have the option to pay much less, or even nothing at all?
However, although it seems contrary to common sense to let customers choose what they want to pay you, there is some sound theory behind the model. A Forbes article from 2015, Pay What You Wish: What Happens When Customers Choose The Price, reports that:
Research has shown that when people are able to set their own prices, almost everyone pays something – and sometimes well over the suggested price.
One particularly well-known example, that gained a lot of publicity at the time, was the release of Radiohead’s In Rainbows album under a pay what you want model.
Now, you might argue that a band of multi-millionaires are in a much better position to allow their fans to pay what they want and there was undoubtedly a great deal of controversy about the decision to use this pricing model. However, according to Thom Yorke in an interview with David Byrne in Wired:
In terms of digital income, we’ve made more money out of this record than out of all the other Radiohead albums put together, forever — in terms of anything on the Net. And that’s nuts.
So, it may be nuts but it does work.
How do you make Pay What You Want work for you?
The Forbes article followed a study by Shelle M Santana, from the Harvard Business School, on PWYW pricing. Santana looked at how some businesses had used PWYW as a pricing strategy and their relative success. She then ran a number of simple experiments selling items such as confectionary and gum to see how subtle changes in marketing affected the price that users paid.
Her findings were essentially that when the notions of partnership and community are highlighted, buyers are likely to pay more on average for PWYW products than when the focus is on special deals and promotions. For instance, when emphasizing the personalities of the people selling coffee, rather than the value of the coffee, the average cost of PWYW transactions increased.
Based on Santana’s research, we can say that if you are considering a PWYW strategy, you should consider the following points in order to subtly influence what your customers will pay:
- Promote a sense of community
- Highlight the people aspect, not the value of the product
- Simply put – appeal to people’s better natures
Real world examples of PWYW
So, maybe there is some genuine commercial mileage in the idea of letting your customers pay whatever they like (still sounds nuts when I type it though). Let’s take a look at some real-life examples.
There is at least one PWYW system that we’re all familiar with: the WordPress plugin directory. Plugin authors can add a donation link to their plugins so that users have the option of donating a sum of their choice to the author for their work. Having developed several free plugins myself, I can tell you that it’s incredibly gratifying, not to say surprising, when you get a PayPal donation out of the blue by someone who has found your plugin useful. So people will, even without being prompted, voluntarily donate money.
Fast Company magazine published Inside Five Businesses that Let Customers Name Their Own Price in 2014. They provide some real-life examples of companies successfully using the PWYW model, including a nonprofit cafe that started a PWYW scheme in several of its cafes with, on average, 60% of customers paying the suggested amount. This scheme is still active.
What can we learn from these examples?
There are several learning points from the Fast Company article:
- Price guidelines help: in the case of the not for profit cafe, having a suggested price prompts the customer
- Low cost products, such as consultancies, can utilize this model effectively and convert low or non-paying customers into clients who pay full fees. This technique is pretty similar to first-one-free
- Use PWYW for special promotions. This technique can be used to convert new customers into established, long-term customers
- Set sensible parameters. If you can’t afford to give away all your products for nothing:
- Set a minimum price
- Offer PWYW for a limited time
- Offer PWYW only on certain products
- A combination of the above
The advantages of using PWYW on your own site
With the examples above in mind, let’s look at some scenarios for how we could use PWYW and make it work best. Some of the ways you can use the technique to your advantage include:
I’m writing this in the week leading up to the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend – the time of the year when everyone’s inbox gets clogged with discount codes and vouchers for products. Implementing a PWYW sale at this time of year would be one way to stand out from your competitors.
In any case, a PWYW model is a great way of promoting your product and is likely to generate more interest than simply offering it for free.
By allowing your customers to set the price, you are sending them the clear message that you trust them. In return, you can expect a greater level of trust from your customers to you. PWYW is a simple way of strengthening your relationship with your clients.
Sell more products
Sell more products. Maybe you only sell 10 products per week at $50 each. With PWYW, you might sell (or giveaway) 500 products over the same period at an average of $5 each. Provided your costs are low enough, you could potentially increase your profitability significantly.
Essentially, the PWYW model here is helping you find the right price point for your product. Of course, you’ll need to remember other factors such as post-sales support when assessing this.
You can implement name your own pricing in several ways. The following are just ideas:
Add a tip jar
Use a Name Your Price field to allow your customers to add an optional tip to the product when they purchase it.
Special promotions and offers
Use PWYW on one or more products as a special offer. This could be helpful in generating traffic to your site, obtaining some new external links, and hopefully gaining some longer term clients.
Nominate a charity for a certain period and allow users to donate an amount to that charity when they purchase your product. This doesn’t actually affect the cost of your product but it may attract some publicity to your site and you’ll be doing a good turn.
Charities and nonprofits / not for profits
If you are a charity or not for profit organization, you can take donations online using Name Your Price.
Whatever activity you’re being sponsored for, whether you’re running a marathon for charity or you’re organizing a school event, you can take donations and sponsorship money online where each sponsor can choose what to pay you. Assuming you’re using WooCommerce Product Add Ons Ultimate, you could also let the sponsor include their name and add a unique message, similar to JustGiving.
Create an entire crowdfunding website using Name Your Price, where users can choose how much to contribute to projects.
Pay What You Can
This is a slight variation on PWYW, asking people to contribute what they feel they can afford, rather than what they want.
If you’ve got this far then, like me, you might be starting to come round to the idea that customer-defined pricing could be a solid commercial strategy. In that case, here are a few things to remember before jumping in:
Consider your customer base
As part of her research, Shelle M Santana investigated PWYW schemes that had had contrasting successes. In the case of a pet adoption agency, she found that customers on average paid close to the recommended fee of $150, with many paying more. However, in the case of a cinema offering PWYW pricing for a showing of Freakonomics, the average price paid was just a penny.
Santana concludes from this that the customer’s attitude towards the transaction has a significant bearing on how much they’ll pay – whether they view the transaction as simply business or if it holds a deeper relational significance. While this is no doubt true, it doesn’t take a genius to see that the type of person who is going through the process of adopting a pet is more emotionally involved in the transaction than someone buying a movie ticket. People who are altruistic enough to adopt a pet are also likely to display integrity over payment.
With that in mind, consider what it is you are offering and who is likely to be purchasing.
Finally, while researching this article, I came across the concept of Mark Off Your Own Price (MOYOP). Here, you set a price for your product and allow users to choose their own discount. The psychology of this is going to be subtly different. Is there an appetite for allowing users to select their own discount? Let me know in the comments and I’ll consider it for a future version.