WooCommerce is a very flexible and, at times, complex ecommerce plugin for WordPress. But sometimes it doesn’t give you quite the functionality you’re looking for out of the box so you need to start looking for extensions to help you accomplish what you want to achieve. One example of this is allowing your customers to create personalized or customizable products. In this post, I’m going to look at:
- What are personalized products
- Why you’d want to sell personalizable products
- Some likely use cases for personalized products
- How you can add custom fields and options to WooCommerce products
- Some plugins that will help
What is a personalized product?
Personalized or customized products include custom fields or options. A good example would be ordering a pizza online: the basic pizza is the product but a customer can personalize it by adding toppings of their choosing or by selecting a different crust.
Other examples might include jewelry with custom engraving or teeshirts with custom prints. We’ll have a look at several examples in more detail later. The point is that a personalized product allows the customer to fine-tune a product with custom options according to parameters set by the store owner.
What are custom options?
In discussing WooCommerce custom options here, we’re talking about form fields that can be added to individual product pages. Other terms which I’ve also used in this article include:
- Custom fields
- Product options
- Product addons / add-ons
- Product extras
- Add on fields
- Custom product fields
Types of custom fields
Custom fields can be any type of form field, typically:
- Text input
- Number input
- File upload
- Radio button
- Select / dropdown field
And so on.
How are custom fields different from variations?
Lots of products sold online are personalizable in some respect or other – even if that’s simply purchasing the size or color you want. WooCommerce already handles this basic type of personalization using variations. Variations allow you to define attributes for products, like size and color, and you can then set price and inventory levels for each variation – so you can charge different prices for different variations. Here’s a screenshot of a typical product page with variations:
Here’s a screenshot of an example product with custom options:
You can see that the custom options are not restricted to select fields like the variation fields are. Custom fields also allow for unique input, the ability to enter someone’s name or upload an image for example, that just isn’t possible with variations.
Why not use custom checkout fields?
You might be thinking that you could accomplish all this at the checkout. There are plenty of plugins and code snippets to allow you to add custom checkout fields to WooCommerce. This might be okay in some circumstances but if customers are buying multiple products from you at a time, you don’t want to confuse stuff at the checkout. Also, custom product fields allow you to change the price of the product, which you can’t do with custom checkout fields.
Why sell personalizable products?
According to a 2013 study by Bain & Company of over 1000 online shoppers, providing customization options to your customers helps to:
- Elevate customer loyalty and engagement
- Encourage customers to advocate your store to other potential buyers
- Boost sales
- Increase customer engagement with your company
Furthermore, stores that offered personalized products found that customers visited their websites more frequently, stayed on the page longer and were more loyal to the brand.Stores that offer personalized products find that customers visit their websites more frequently, stay on the page longer and are more loyal to their brand. Click To Tweet
Here’s a graphic from the Bain study showing increased user engagement on stores that allow customizations:
And another thing
Of course, there’s another very simple reason why you might want to offer personalization on your products: and that’s because your product demands it. If you are selling personalized items like gifts then you are going to need to be able to allow your customers to add their own information to products.
Ideas for personalizing your products
So now we’ve established the case for personalizing products, here are some ideas for how you could add customizable elements to your WooCommerce products – or maybe even ideas for new products you could sell.
Providing your customers with the option to have an item gift-wrapped is probably the simplest product customization there is – yet it may also be the most profitable for you. Imagine just having a simple checkbox for each product you sold that invited your customers to have that product wrapped, all for an additional fee.
It’s the equivalent of those impulse purchases at the supermarket checkout when you just grab whatever’s on display while you wait.
It might sound obvious but a gift wrapping option works really well when your products are likely to be bought as gifts: for example, if you’re selling jewelry.
Another really simple way to add value is to offer extended warranties or guarantees on your products (especially tech and electronic items). Just add a checkbox option to your product inviting customers to purchase additional cover.
According to The Spruce, over 7 billion greeting cards are sold every year. And although most of these are purchased in bricks and mortar stores, you can guarantee that the trend for online purchases will increase. By offering personalized, unique greetings cards you can gain a real advantage over your competitors in bricks and mortar stores.
- Ideas for customizations that you can offer include:
- Uploading user images for the front of the card
- Personalized messages on the front of the card
- Choosing layouts and designs
- Personalized messages inside the card
- Adding the recipient’s name
- Adding the sender’s name
- Adding content to the back of the card – including logos and business details for corporates
I mentioned pizza at the start of the article but almost any type of dish that people are ordering online can be customized. The online food market is changing as well . No longer confined to pizza and other “fast foods”, companies like Deliveroo are going upmarket, bringing all kinds of restaurant food to your door.
Customizations you could provide for takeaway might include:
- Pizza toppings
- Side dishes
- Add bread or rice
- Cooking time (e.g. rare, medium)
- Build your own salads
- Scheduled delivery times
All these options are great ways to upsell, to encourage your customers to spend just a little bit more. It all adds up.
Calls for artists submissions
On a completely different tack from gift wrapping and takeaway food, you can use product options to help with calls for submissions to exhibitions. If you’re running a gallery or you’re promoting an exhibition, at some stage you’re likely to put out a call for artists to submit their work with a view to placing it on display. If you want to charge artists for their submissions, you can create a product with various options so that artists can upload images of their work and provide information about it.
These options can even have extra costs attached so that artists who wish to submit more than one work will need to pay more.
Running competitions on your website can be a very effective way of generating publicity and traffic. If you’re running an online photography store, you might want to run occasional photography competitions, for example. Entrants can upload their work and provide information about it – and you can charge them for the privilege. It’s win-win.
A universally well-known example of personalized clothing would be teeshirts with custom messages or images. According to this report by Credence Research, the global market for custom teeshirt printing is expected to grow to $10 billion by 2025. That’s a lot of teeshirts.
But you’re not confined to teeshirts. You can offer customization options for any item of clothing: shirts, gym wear, pullovers, overcoats, underwear…
Customers could upload their own images or you could present them with a set number of designs to choose from. They could add messages or slogans, add text to the back of the shirt, choose color options, anything to make their purchase unique.
And obviously, don’t forget that gift wrap option.
If you’re selling to businesses, then customization is essential. Whatever product you’re selling, corporate clients will want to add their logos, business details, and no doubt some kind of inspiring message for their customers.
“Build your own” products
As the final example of products that can be personalized, think about build your own products like:
- Vegetable or fruit boxes
- Gift baskets
Building your own product feels like a premium service, the ultimate in luxury (even if you are just choosing the fillings for your sandwich). Think about high-end brands like Fortnum and Mason and their world-famous hampers:
How to add custom fields to WooCommerce
As I mentioned above, WooCommerce doesn’t have extra fields as part of its default functionality so you’ll have to use an extension. In the examples here, I’m using the Product Extras for WooCommerce plugin but there are some alternatives listed at the end of the post as well.
Adding custom fields
In all the examples below, you’ll first need to create a product in WooCommerce, assign it a price, then click on the Product Extras tab.
Click the ‘Add Group’ button then click ‘Add Field’ to add your first custom field.
How to add a text input field to a WooCommerce product
From the Product Extras panel (see above), click ‘Add Field’ to add a new custom field. You’ll see a new section appear:
- In the ‘Field Label’, enter a label for your field.
- In the ‘Field Type’ select field, choose ‘Text’
- Add a price to the ‘Price’ field. This will get added to the product price if the customer enters anything into this field
- You can optionally set a minimum and/or maximum number of characters allowed in the field in the ‘Min chars’ and ‘Max chars’ fields
- Check the ‘Required’ box if the customer must enter something into this field
- Add a description for the field in the ‘Description’ field
Once you’ve added your information, publish or update the product. On the front end, you’ll see something like this:
How to add a textarea field to a WooCommerce product
For a textarea, follow the steps above for adding a text field but just choose ‘Textarea’ from the ‘Field Type’ dropdown.
How to add a file upload field to a WooCommerce product
To add a file upload control to your product, just change the ‘Field Type’ to ‘Upload’. This will add a file upload field like this:
This field is used exclusively for uploading images to your WooCommerce product, mainly for security reasons. You can set the maximum file size permitted on the Product Extras tab in the WooCommerce Settings page. You can also specify whether users need to be logged in to upload images (again, for security reasons).
How to add a number field to a WooCommerce product
Hopefully, you’re getting the hang of this by now. To add a number input field, change the ‘Field Type’ to ‘Number’. You have some additional parameters here – ‘Min value’ and ‘Max value’ – where you can set the permitted value range.
How to add a checkbox to a WooCommerce product
To add a checkbox, just choose ‘Checkbox’ in the ‘Field Type’ dropdown.
Note that if you check the ‘Required’ field for a checkbox, the customer will have to select the checkbox. This is a useful way of requiring the customer to make a confirmation or acknowledgement, e.g. for terms, when on the product page.
If you’re thinking about adding a gift wrap option, the checkbox field is all you need.
How to add a select field to a WooCommerce product
Adding a select field is slightly more complex than the other field types above. Choose ‘Select’ in the ‘Field Type’ dropdown and a new area will appear where you can enter your options. Click the ‘Add Option’ button.
You’ll get a new row appear with a field for the option name and a field for the price. (The price field is optional).
Enter as many options as you wish.
Adding conditions to custom fields
Sometimes, you might want to display fields only if certain conditions have been met. Perhaps if the customer selects a checkbox for an extended warranty you’d like to display a select field with different options for the warranties available. Or maybe you want to hide a field if another field has a certain value. You can do this using conditional logic.
To use conditional logic, you will need to have created at least two custom fields in your product. In the example below, there are three: Field 1, Field 2, and Field 3. I’ve contracted them for brevity.
Let’s say we only want to display Field 3 if the checkbox in Field 2 is selected. To do this, expand Field 3 and click the ‘Add Condition’ button.
Some new options will appear under the Conditions heading. Firstly, you can choose what action to take: either to show or hide the field. Secondly, you can choose whether all rules need to be true or if any rule can be true. If you only have one condition, this field is academic.
Below this pair of options, you can start setting your conditions. In the screenshot above, the condition simply means that Field 3 will be displayed if Field 2 (a checkbox) is checked. Otherwise, Field 3 will be hidden.
You can add multiple conditions to a field if you wish.
Creating personalizable products in WooCommerce
Here are some simple scenarios for how to build some of the example products above.
How to add a gift wrapping option to WooCommerce
If you’ve read through the details above on adding different fields using Product Extras for WooCommerce, you’ll see that adding a gift wrapping option is really straightforward. Just add a checkbox (ensure that the ‘Required’ field is not selected) and add the cost of the gift wrapping in the ‘Price’ field. When a customer chooses this option, the price will be added to the product price.
When you receive the order, the additional product options, like gift wrapping, will be clearly listed under the product title.
How to add an extended warranty field to a product
This is exactly the same as the gift wrapping option above – just create a checkbox and assign a price.
How to sell personalized greetings cards on WooCommerce
Customizable greetings cards are a great fit with WooCommerce and Product Extras for WooCommerce. You could be selling single cards to consumers, e.g. just to someone who wants to send their wife a unique birthday card, or you could be offering customized cards for businesses.
Here’s a quick example of how you can do this.
- Create a new product and assign a base price for the card
- Click the Product Extras tab and click the ‘Add Group’ button. Name the group ‘Front’. We’ll add custom fields for the front of the card to this group
- Click the ‘Add Field’ button
- In the new field, enter ‘Main Message’ as the label and choose ‘Select’ as the field type (this is just an example – you can choose what fields you want)
- Enter some options for the main message – e.g. ‘Happy Birthday’, ‘Welcome to your new home’ etc.
- Click the ‘Add Field’ button again
- Select ‘Upload’ as the field type and label it ‘Upload your image’. This will allow people to upload their image to appear on the front of the card.
Your Product Extras panel will look a bit like this:
Now create a group for the inside of the card:
- Click ‘Add Group’
- Name the group ‘Inside’
- Click ‘Add Field’ – add a new text field called for the recipient’s name
- Click ‘Add Field’ again – this time, create a textfield for a personalized message
- You might want to restrict the number of characters in both groups to ensure the text is not too big for the space
The group will look like this:
Publish the product. On the front-end, it’ll look something like this:
WooCommerce plugins for extra product fields
In all the examples above, I’ve used the Product Extras for WooCommerce plugin.
Product Extras for WooCommerce
$49 for single site license
- Conditional logic
- Duplicate fields and groups
- Import fields and groups from other products
- 50% discount for renewing your license
- It’s my plugin so…
Other plugins are available
WooCommerce Product Addons
$49 for a single site license
- Well, the fact that it’s an official Woo extension ought to be a point in its favour but see the cons below.
- Add-ons can be edited globally
- Poor support – WooCommerce do not have the best reputation for speed and quality of their support
- No conditional logic
- No discount for renewing your license
More information about WooCommerce Product Addons
Gravity Forms Product Add-ons
$99 for a single site license, plus Gravity Forms license
- Create highly complex configurable product fields using Gravity Forms and WooCommerce
- Uses almost all available Gravity Forms fields
- Expensive and complex to use
More information about Gravity Forms Product Add-ons
Product Options for WooCommerce
- Add options to product pages and to the checkout
- Multiple product fields available
- No conditional logic
- Only rated 3.5 by users
More about Product Options for WooCommerce
What have we learned?
Well, I hope you have found this article to be useful. We’ve looked at what personalized products are and why you’d want to sell them. Even relatively minor customizations like gift wrapping can add value to your product and increase your profitability. I’ve also covered a number of specific types of personalized products – if you have more examples you’d like to share, then please leave a comment below. It would be interesting to hear how others are using extra fields in their products.
Finally, we looked at the details of adding custom fields and options using the Product Extras for WooCommerce plugin and summarized a couple of other plugins that are available.