One of the best things about the WordPress CMS is that it makes it incredibly easy for site owners to give people access to the website’s back-end in a safe way. This allows contributors, contractors, and employees to do their job without worrying about accidentally ‘breaking’ the site. For online stores, this is possible with WooCommerce user roles.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about user roles in WordPress and WooCommerce. We’ll also explain why you might need new user roles for your online store and how you can create new user roles in WooCommerce.

More specifically:

What are user roles in WordPress?

WordPress user roles define the actions or tasks each user is authorised to perform. These tasks are their ‘capabilities’. The six default WordPress user roles are:

  • Super Administrator
  • Administrator
  • Editor
  • Author
  • Contributor
  • Subscriber

Each one of the default WordPress user roles have different capabilities. For example, Authors can publish and manage their own posts whereas Contributors can write and manage their own posts but cannot publish them.

In WooCommerce, there are many different ways to use user roles to your advantage. For example, you can set prices by user role or offer role-based payment methods.

User roles in WooCommerce

When you install WooCommerce to your WordPress site, you’ll notice it automatically adds two user roles – Customer and Shop Manager.

When someone registers on your online store, either via the checkout process or the sign-up process, they become Customers. Customers have read access, can view their past and present orders, and edit their profiles.

Shop Manager is a role that Administrators can assign someone in order to give them the ability to manage the online store without having all of the Administrator capabilities. They can manage all WooCommerce settings and create and edit products. In addition to this, they can also access all WooCommerce reports.

How to create new user roles in WooCommerce

You can use a WooCommerce user roles plugin – like WooCommerce Members Only – to add as many new user roles as you’d like to your website. This is especially useful for WooCommerce stores that cater to different types of customers, for example, retail customers and wholesale customers (or B2B buyers) and membership site owners.

For this tutorial, you’ll need a WordPress website with the WooCommerce plugin set up and the Members Only plugin.

WooCommerce Members Only

To get started, log into your WooCommerce site and head over to WooCommerce > Settings > Members Only > User Roles. Next, use the ‘User roles’ option to select an existing user role to duplicate. For example, let’s say you want to duplicate the Customer user role.

Create new WooCommerce user role

Enter the name of your new WooCommerce user role in the ‘New role name’ field e.g. B2B Buyer. Click the ‘Duplicate role’ button to proceed.

Once that’s done, you can use the ‘Edit Role’ option from the same screen to grant or revoke capabilities. Simply select the user role you’d like to edit and tick the checkbox next to the capabilities you’d like to grant.

Edit user role in WooCommerce

For example, if you want to grant B2B Buyers the ability to upload files, simply tick the checkbox next to the upload_files capability. Click the ‘Update role’ button to proceed.

What do we need new user roles for in WooCommerce?

WooCommerce user roles let you assign capabilities to different types of users so they can perform various actions on your website. Here are some scenarios where you might need to create a new WooCommerce user role.

Scenario #1: Membership sites

If you’re running a WooCommerce membership site, you might need an easy way to distinguish between the membership plans users sign up for. For example, you can create a new WooCommerce user role ‘Silver Members’ for users who sign up for the ‘Silver Plan’ and a ‘Gold Members’ user role for users who sign up for the ‘Gold Plan’.

This makes it easier to send out email marketing offers or offer trials to members who’ve signed up for a specific membership plan.

Scenario #2: Wholesale stores

WooCommerce store owners that sell products to both retail customers and wholesale customers can benefit from creating new WooCommerce user roles for their wholesale store.

Setting up dynamic pricing allows you to sell products at different prices to wholesale customers and retail customers. For example, you might want to set up tiered pricing for wholesale customers to offer them discounts for buying in bulk. This is also useful for when you need to offer role-based payment methods.

Scenario #3: Members only stores

Many WooCommerce store owners set up members-only stores to sell exclusive products to registered members. In other words, they hide products by user roles.

For example, they might make merchandise available to members only before regular customers or have certain products in their store that only registered members can purchase. Setting up a members-only store also allows you to offer users with the Members user role special discounts.

Advanced features for WooCommerce user roles

As an online store owner, you might need an easy way to automate routine tasks like automatically assigning WooCommerce user roles when a user purchases a product or approving user registrations. The WooCommerce Members Only plugin makes this easy to set up.

Setting user roles automatically when a user purchases a product

Using WooCommerce Members Only, you can automatically assign users one or more WooCommerce user roles after they purchase a product. Here’s what you need to do:

Start by opening the product you’d like to assign the user role for in the ‘Edit product’ screen. Scroll down to the ‘Product data’ meta box and click the ‘Members Only’ tab.

Automatically assign user roles

Enter the user role(s) you want to assign customers after they purchase this product. Click the ‘Update’ button to proceed.

Whenever a customer purchases that product, they’ll be assigned the specified WooCommerce user role(s).

Approving user registrations

By default, WooCommerce assigns the Customer user role to anyone who makes a purchase at your online store. However, if you want to approve user registrations manually, you can use the WooCommerce Members Only plugin.

To get started, go to WooCommerce > Settings > Members Only > Registration from the WordPress admin panel.

Enable user approval in WooCommerce

Tick the checkbox next to the ‘Enable User Approval’ option. Click the ‘Save changes’ button to proceed.

There’s a complete article on approving new users in WooCommerce here.

Allow the user to select their user role at registration

It might be the case that you would like to allow users to select their user role when they register. A typical example would be wholesale stores where a new user might apply for a ‘Consumer’ or ‘Wholesale’ account.

Select user role from WooCommerce registration field

If you’re allowing users to select their role at registration, you can also specify which roles need to be approved and which will automatically get registered.


WooCommerce user roles make it easy for online store owners to better manage customers, offer exclusive discounts, sell to different types of customers, and so much more. And the easiest way to set this up is by using a WooCommerce user roles plugin like WooCommerce Members Only.

To recap, you can use WooCommerce Members Only to:

  • Create new user roles in WooCommerce.
  • Modify the capabilities of WooCommerce user roles.
  • Assign WooCommerce user roles automatically when a customer purchases a product.
  • Approve user registrations manually.

Need to create WooCommerce user roles to better manage your online store? Get the WooCommerce Members Only plugin today!

WooCommerce Members Only

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I’m a professional writer and co-founder at BloggInc providing data-driven content for B2B companies.

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