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A Prepaid Credits System for your WooCommerce Website

    Namrata
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wordpress-credit-systemPrepaid credit systems are the norm for digital products. If you’ve come across websites like iStockPhoto, you know what I’m talking about. Such websites use a credits system in which, a customer needs to purchase credits to download products. To give you a better idea of how such websites work, I’ve listed down steps an interested customer would have to follow, to make a purchase on a website, like iStockPhoto:

  1. An interested customer selects an image he wants to download.
  2. He then sees the cost of the image, which is set as credits. For example, ‘Image-ABC costs 10 credits’.
  3. If he is a first time visitor, he has to purchase credits to download the image.
  4. To purchase credits, he has to register, and then buy credits in packs. For example, ‘A pack of 50 credits would cost $100’, or ‘a pack of 120 credits would cost $200’, and so on.
  5. Once the customer purchases credits, the credit amount will be added to his account.
  6. He will be then able to download the image, and the credits points (the image is worth), will be deducted from his account.
  7. Registered customers, have to login to download images
  8. If a customer does not have sufficient credits to download an image, the image download option will not be shown. Instead he will be prompted to purchase more credits.

It’s a simple approach. And it works well when micropayment transactions are involved. That is to say, the main application of a credits system, is for stores, which have products priced at a very low cost. Such stores prefer not to make a transaction for every purchase (because of fees incurred). Instead a credits system is preferred, because it involves a one time transaction.

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Creating a Prepaid Credits System with WooCommerce

Now that we have an understanding of how such systems work. Let’s take a look, at how we can create a prepaid credits system website on WordPress. Instead of creating such a website entirely from scratch, you could use an existing WordPress e-Commerce plugin, like WooCommerce. With WooCommerce, you have the option to sell some products for a set price, or some using credits. Since a credits system is not a default functionality of the WooCommerce plugin, you would need some customization.

Allow Customers to Purchase Credits

As we’ve learned, to download products from a prepaid credits store, a customer has to register and purchase credits. So when you think about it, credit packs are, essentially, products. But such packs have to be set up in your WooCommerce store as a custom product type, to have more control over the pricing and purchase of these packs. In fact, payment gateways should be made available only for credit packs, while other products, will be purchased using credits. You will have to also add a custom field, which specifies the credit value received when a product pack is purchased.

credit-system-woocommerce
Custom Product Type for Credit Packs

These credit packs should not be shown on your WooCommerce Shop page. Instead, you should add them on a separate page. You can then add a menu option to provide customers a quick link to purchase credits.

Allow Customers to Download Products using Credits

Products, which can be downloaded from your store, can be set up as usual (Simple, Variable) products. There should be a custom field added, where you can set the credits needed to purchase the product. You do not need to set a price for these products. Other product settings can be provided as usual.

woocommerce-custom-field-credit
Custom Field to set Product Price in Credits

These products will be visible on your Shop page. On the product page, the customer will be shown the credits needed to purchase a product. And there will be a download option right on the product page.

woocommerce-credit-purchase
Price of Product in Credits

If there are sufficient credits available in the customer’s account, he will be able to download the product. If credits are not available, a ‘Buy Credits’ button will be shown, instead of ‘Download Now’.

The credit balance, should be shown on the customer’s ‘My Account’ page.

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Virtual Wallets v/s Credits System

A variant of a credits system is one which uses a virtual wallet. Your store is set up in the usual way, where products have a stated price (not credits). Instead of buying credits, a customer has to deposit a fixed amount of money into his ‘wallet’. He can then use the money from his wallet, to then buy a product. The Account Funds plugin can be used to create a Virtual Wallet for WooCommerce, in your WordPress website.

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A prepaid credits system has several advantages. It improves customer loyalty, because an initial investment has been made. A credit system also ensures that product purchases (or downloads) happen quicker, since transactions are not made at the time of purchase. What are your thoughts about a credits system? Does your idea differ? Feel free to leave your thoughts and questions, for the benefit of fellow readers, using the comment section below!

Namrata

Namrata

27 Responses

  1. This is similar to what I’m looking for, except I don’t need credits to be paid for. I need a budget or allowance, per user, as set by shop administrator. It would be time period based, and ideally would have the option to automatically refill the budget at start of each period.

    I’m also looking for a the same tracking mechanism, but where a user pays for products with credit card, and purchase amounts are deducted from allowance.

  2. Would this plugin also support subscriptions? We have installed the Woocommerce subscriptions plugin already and would like to give the customer the possibility to create their own subscription box.

  3. Wheres the download link and is it possible to allocate credits to accounts, without them having to buy credits?

    1. Hey Stef,

      Unfortunately we don’t. We are a bit occupied with service related tasks, but when something materializes, we’ll surely let you know.

    1. Hi Manuel,

      We haven’t built a ‘Credits System’ plugin. But you have three options available:
      1. Account Funds: It works like a virtual wallet. It’s built by WooThemes.
      2. Simple Credits built by WSE Group (I haven’t used it, so can’t comment on how well it works)
      3. We could build a custom solution for you (if none of the above suit your requirements)

      My recommendation would be: Account Funds. It’s definitely worth a look. But, if it doesn’t suit your requirements or if you’re looking for developer assistance, you could contact us at sales@wisdmlabs.

      p.s.:- I’ve replied to the comments on this thread. To view them, you need to click on the callout. You’re comment made me realize that our comments UI is not very intuitive. So, thanks for that. Feedback taken. 🙂

  4. Thanks. Lots of things in the offing that we’ll certainly do together. Will keep in touch, Namrata! P.S: Still expecting the Instructor Commission feature on the LD Instructor Role…thanks.

    1. Manuel, you’ll be glad to know we have built the Instructor Commission feature and it’s in the testing phase. So it should be available to you real soon 🙂

  5. Isn’t the Account Funds plugin the better of the two options then? There is no need to create a custom product type, no need to specify credit amount for products. And also, as the plugin is from WooCommerce, Also, it is likely going to have a better integration with WooCommerce than plugins developed by other authors.

  6. If you are looking for a WooCommerce credits plugin which works as described in this blog post then you should check out Fast WooCredit.

    1. You create a product for users to purchase credit with which is a ‘Credit Purchase’ type product

    2. You set the option for simple or variable products to be purchased using the credit and the amount of credit each product is worth. This is deducted from the customers credit balance.

    3. Customers credit balance can be manually adjusted in the WP admin for each user profile.

    4. You can hide buy now buttons and only allow customers to purchase using their credit balance

    It integrates seamlessly with WooCommerce…

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