How to implement WooCommerce ‘name your price’ products for your site

A WooCommerce “Name Your Price” plugin enables you to be flexible in how much you charge for your products. This is 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 a ‘name your price’ approach in a WooCommerce single product, including:

  • Implementing a straightforward WooCommerce name your price method (also called product open pricing)
  • Adding WooCommerce donation options to a product
  • Creating WooCommerce pay your bill notifications – pseudo-invoicing
  • Integrating a WooCommerce pay what you want strategy into your site

We’ll accompany each example with a working demo product so you can see it in action.

At the end of the article, we’ll look at some of the reasoning behind using pay what you want pricing models. There will also be some creative ideas for using them in your own site.

The key elements of a WooCommerce name your price strategy

Our examples will all share some common features:

  • Customers will have the option to define their own price for a product
  • You’ll 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 the examples will have extra features:

  • Users will be able to define part of the price, not the whole price
  • You can use conditional logic to display personalised ‘name your own’ fields under certain circumstances. For example, if the user has selected a specific option
  • If you let users 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

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Using a WooCommerce Name Your Price plugin

All our examples use the WooCommerce Product Add Ons Ultimate plugin. This plugin lets your customers define their own price for your products (plus a lot of other options too).

WooCommerce Product Add-Ons Ultimate

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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 in WordPress. Once you do that, you can create your product.

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 title on the product page.

When you’re ready, you can move onto how to create the product itself.

How to create a WooCommerce name your price product

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. The customer can name their own price.

WooCommerce name your own price product

The key element here is to add a specific field to your product, so let’s look at this next.

How to add a WooCommerce name your price field

To add a name your price field to your WooCommerce product:

  1. Click the ‘Product Add-Ons’ tab in the ‘Product data’ section
  2. Click ‘Add Group’ and ‘Add Field’
  3. Select ‘Name Your Price’ as the ‘Field Type’
  4. Enter some text in the ‘Field Label’

That’s how to add a Name Your Price field to a WooCommerce product. If you want to specify a minimum price or maximum price, you can enter a value in the ‘Min Value’ or ‘Max Value’ fields.

We’ve now created our name your price product, with open pricing, in WooCommerce. There’s a demo product for you to take a look at, if you’d like to see the finished article.

How to create a donation product in WooCommerce

There are many reasons why you might want to have a donation product in your WooCommerce store. For example, many charities and non-profit organisations accept donations through their websites. You could use the WooCommerce variable product functionality to set one product type as one to donate to.

In our example, we’ll create a product where the user can specify the amount of their donation on the frontend checkout, and add an optional message:

WooCommerce donation product

To create a WooCommerce donation product:

  1. Create a product following the guidance above
  2. In the ‘Product Add-Ons’ panel, click ‘Add Group’ then ‘Add Field’
  3. Select ‘Name Your Price’ as the ‘Field Type’
  4. Enter a ‘Field Label’, for example, “Donation value”

You will also want to check the ‘Required Field’ option. This makes sure that a user 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:

  1. Click ‘Add Field’
  2. Choose ‘Textarea’ as the ‘Field Type’
  3. Enter a ‘Field Label’

As before, there’s a full-featured demo product for you to take a look at. This will give you a way to visualise the end result, and inspire your own creations.

How to accept donations via a WooCommerce product

A slight variation of the WooCommerce donation product is to accept a donation as an additional price option to a standard product.

For example, you might like to give users the option to make an additional donation on top of the product price when they make a purchase. You could offer users the ability to make a contribution to a specified charity in addition to the regular price.

To accept an additional donation when a customer purchases one of your products:

  1. Create your product as normal (unlike the examples above, your product won’t have a zero value)
  2. Add a ‘Name Your Price’ field as in the examples above

If you take a look at the example product, you’ll see how the product total – next to the ‘Add to cart’ button – updates when you enter an amount in the donation field.

You can also make dynamic and reactive product options using WooCommerce and the WooCommerce Product Add Ons Ultimate plugin. Let’s look at this next.

How to add a name your own field in WooCommerce using conditional logic

You have the option to display a single ‘Name Your Own’ field if the user’s choices meet other field conditions. For example, you could extend the optional donation field example so that you hide the field at first. It will only display if the user meets certain conditions.

To add a name your own field using conditional logic:

  1. In the ‘Product Add-Ons’ panel, click ‘Add Group’ then ‘Add Field’
  2. Select ‘Checkbox’ as the ‘Field Type’
  3. Add a ‘Field Label’, e.g. ‘Make an additional donation?’
  4. Click ‘Add Field’ to create a second type
  5. Select ‘Name Your Price’ as the ‘Field Type’
  6. Enter a ‘Field Label’, e.g. ‘Amount’
  7. Add a condition to show the ‘Amount’ field upon selecting the checkbox
Name your own price with conditional logic

The example product will show how this works in practice, and it’s a flexible (and powerful) feature.

How to create a ‘pay your bill’ product in WooCommerce

A freelancer (or any other type of business that regularly invoices clients) will often receive payments through bank transfers or online payments. You can do this in WooCommerce in a snap.

To create a WooCommerce pay your bill product:

  1. Create a new product called “Pay your bill”
  2. Set the price to “0” and choose ‘Hide price’ in ‘Price label display’ as with the first example product
  3. Click ‘Add Group’ and ‘Add Field’
  4. Add your ‘Name the Price’ field and label it ‘Amount’ (or similar)
  5. Click ‘Add Field’ again
  6. Create a ‘Text’ field and label it ‘Reference ID’ (or whatever makes sense for you)
WooCommerce pay your bill settings

You’ll want to check the ‘Required Field’ option for both fields. This will ensure that your clients enter the amount and the reference ID before adding the product to the cart.

As the example product shows, 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.

How to create a name your price field as a percentage of the product price

In the examples so far, the user gets to set the product price by typing the monetary figure they’d like to pay. However, you can also give customers the option to choose payment as a percentage. It’s straightforward to do.

To create a name your price field as a percentage of the product price:

  1. Create a product and enter a price (not “0”)
  2. On the ‘Product Add-Ons’ tab, click ‘Add Group’ then ‘Add Field’
  3. Choose ‘Name Your Price’ as the field type
  4. 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)
  5. Select the ‘Percentage’ checkbox
Name your price as a percentage

When an user enters a figure into the amount field, WooCommerce will calculate the cost as a percentage of the product price. You can see this in action with the demo product.

How to set a name your price field as a fixed fee in the cart

So far, the amount the customer enters into the ‘name your price’ field is a multiple of the quantity of product. For donation products, you may want to specify that a customer can only buy a single quantity. However, you might also want to let the customer buy multiple products, but only charge them a single donation value.

To do this, set up your product and name your price field as per the previous examples. Once change is to select the ‘Flat Rate’ checkbox. This will ensure that any entered amount is only chargeable once, no matter the quantity value.

Flat rate field

You can see the example product here – it’s the same as the additional donation product. The user is able to buy as many copies of the book as possible – the additional donation will process once only.

Next, let’s take a look at the rationale for using ‘Pay What You Want’ for your WooCommerce products.

Why use Pay What You Want payments?

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.

At first, a PWYW strategy 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 doesn’t seem like enabling customers to choose what they want to pay you is common sense, 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:

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 well-known example was the release of Radiohead’s In Rainbows album, under a PWYW model.

Radiohead in amsterdam

You can argue that a band of multi-millionaires are in a much better position to let fans pay what they want. In fact, there was a great deal of controversy about the decision to use the 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, while PWYW models seem like internal sabotage on the surface, they can (and do) 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, along with their relative success. She then ran a number of simple experiments selling items such as confectionery and gum to see how subtle changes in marketing affected the price that users paid.

She found that when you highlight the notions of partnership and community, a customer is likely to pay more on average for PWYW products than a focus on special deals and promotions. For instance, when emphasising the personalities of the people selling coffee, rather than the beverage’s value, 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
  • Appeal to people’s better nature and you’ll have more chance of success

A real-world example of PWYW: WordPress

There is some genuine commercial mileage in the idea of letting your customers pay whatever they like. Let’s take a look at a real-life example we’re all familiar with: the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Authors can add a donation link to a plugin, to give users the option of donating a sum to help with the costs of development. The developers of these free plugins can feel an incredible gratification when they receive a donation. It’s some proof that people can donate to a valuable and worthwhile project on a voluntary basis.

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 non-profit 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 real-world Pay What You Want 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 to consider paying something
  • Low cost products, such as consultancies, can utilise this model effectively and convert low or non-paying customers into clients who pay full fees.
  • Use PWYW for special promotions. This technique can 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, or offer PWYW only on certain products

Of course, you can also use a combination of the above to achieve your goals.

The advantages of using PWYW on your own site

Let’s look at some scenarios for how you could use PWYW and make it work for you. We’re going to present these as approaches, but also advantages of using the strategy:

  • You have a simple way to promote your products. Implementing a PWYW sale at an optimal time of the year (such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday) would be one way to stand out from your competitors. This is because a PWYW model is a great way of promoting your product and is likely to generate more interest than simply offering it for free.
  • If you let you customers set the price, you send a clear message of trust. 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.
  • You can sell more products. Consider a situation where you only sell ten products per week at $50 each. With PWYW, you might sell (or give away) 500 products over the same period at an average of $5 each. Provided your running costs are low enough, you could potentially increase your profitability significantly.

Essentially, the PWYW model here helps 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.

Ideas for using WooCommerce Name Your Price products

You can implement name your own pricing in several ways. The following are just ideas, although you can mix and match to implement them, or even expand on them:

  • 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.
  • 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 and let users donate an amount upon purchase. This won’t affect the cost of your product, but it may attract some publicity to your site and you’ll be doing a good turn.

Niche-based companies can also use PWYW in an effective way. For example, if you’re a charity or not for profit organisation, you can take donations online using a Name Your Price strategy. You could also create an entire crowdfunding website using Name Your Price, where users can choose how much to contribute to projects.

You might even want to consider a Pay What You Can (PWYC) method of payment. This is a slight variation on PWYW, and asks customers to contribute what they feel they can afford.

Sponsorships represent a great way to offer a PWYW approach. Regardless of whether you’re running a marathon for charity or you’re organising a school event, you can take donations and sponsorship money online. Each sponsor can choose what to pay you.

With WooCommerce Product Add Ons Ultimate, you could also let the sponsor include their name and add a unique message. This is similar to sites such as JustGiving, and lets you implement the same technology and features in a breeze. Using WooCommerce subscriptions can also work in this situation.

Finally, you might come across the concept of Mark Off Your Own Price (MOYOP). This is a method where you set a full price for your product, and let users choose their own discount. The psychology of this is going to be subtly different than for PWYW.

Here, you give the user your valuation of the product and invite them to agree or disagree. It can be a good alternative to offering a set price for a product, while also maximising income.

Further considerations for open pricing products

Despite what your initial thought might be, customer-defined pricing can be a solid commercial strategy. In that case, here are a few things to remember before jumping in.

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. The value will change whether they view the transaction as simply business or if it holds a deeper relational significance.

Of course, there is some biasing here. The type of person who will adopt a pet will be have more emotion than in a movie transaction, and will likely also display integrity over payment. With this in mind, consider what it is you are offering and who is likely to be purchasing.

Conclusion

A strategy where you ask the customer: “Name your price!” is going to be fraught with worry for the WooCommerce store owner. However, studies show that there is commercial value in the strategy. As such, you can also implement this on your WordPress website. You can use the WooCommerce Product Add Ons Ultimate plugin to help users define a price. While you might take a risk, the rewards can boost your income and sales.

Do you think a WooCommerce name your price strategy is viable and worth implementing? Let us know in the comments section below!

WooCommerce Product Add-Ons Ultimate

Enhance the shopping experience on your store by allowing customers to personalise your products

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