How to pay commission or profit share from your WooCommerce product sales

Published on: Updated: March 26, 2018

AdapPymntRolesApp_BOne of our WooCommerce clients recently asked us to set up her WordPress online shop to automatically pay a profit share to her business partner.

Most WordPress e-commerce websites accept payments to a single source only. Typically, a WooCommerce store will integrate with a single PayPal account, to which all payments received via the website are sent. This client wanted a percentage commission or profit share to be automatically paid to a second PayPal account for specific products only.

WordPress plugins for WooCommerce profit share or commission

We initially thought that this would involve some bespoke WordPress development work involving WooCommerce and the PayPal API. However we found several WordPress plugins that met the requirements exactly. I guess that’s not surprising given that 2,500+ WooCommerce add-ons are available in 2017.

These plugins work using a feature called PayPal Adaptive Payments. It lets you split a PayPal payment (e.g. from a WooCommerce product order) to multiple recipients.

There are 3 main WordPress plugins for using PayPal to pay a profit share or commission from your WooCommerce orders:

All of these plugins do largely the same thing. They all integrate PayPal Adaptive Payments with WooCommerce. They all split PayPal payments to multiple recipients using a choice of methods. These are Chained Payments, Parallel Payments or Standard Simple Payments. (Read the plugin documentation for definitions, as it’s quite complicated.)

Although all 3 plugins looked fine and had quite good reviews, we chose the official WooCommerce extension. This is because it’s safer to purchase plugins from a single company. WooThemes developed both WooCommerce itself and the PayPal Adaptive Payments plugin, so if we had any problems then they would have to take responsibility and couldn’t blame the other developer. This is always a possibility when you combine plugins by multiple developers. Price-wise, the official plugin was the middle of the 3 options.

Our solution

We purchased the PayPal Adaptive Payments plugin and read the documentation, which was quite complex. Chained Payments was the best method for our client as it allows the commission to be automatically sent to our client’s business partner without the customer knowing that this is happening.

We set up the plugin to work with WooCommerce products in a specific category only. The customer would pay via PayPal. It would look like their PayPal payment was going a single recipient. But behind the scenes, a ‘Chained Payment’ effect would kick in. A percentage of the payment was sent to our client’s PayPal account and a different percentage was sent to her business partner. Perfect!

What’s the catch?

The only downside is that PayPal Adaptive Payments are complicated. The fact that there’s a plugin available doesn’t make it easy to set up. We had to do a lot of fairly technical work to set everything up correctly. This included creating a PayPal App and submitting it to PayPal for approval. There were also several hoops to jump through such as providing PayPal with details of our client’s business plan. (Because they wanted to check the payments were being used suitably.)

If you have a WordPress website and want Adaptive Payments, you’ll probably need a WordPress web developer or agency to set it up. It’s a great option if you want to automate more complex payment arrangements with PayPal.

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