Can I Tell You a Story?
I went to a website this last weekend – Black Friday Cyber Monday – and I bought a software license. One of those licenses that costs a good amount of money, but is worth it because they're offering a nice sale. Then I logged into “My Account” and what did I find? That I had already made this purchase 7 months ago. This is not the first time it's happened. Maybe I'm clueless. Or maybe merchants should figure out how to disable repeat purchases when it makes sense.
I'm going with the second case because it makes me feel better. 🙂
Why Disable Repeat Purchases?
I know you're thinking, why would I ever want to disable repeat purchases? That's more money. You're insane!
And if you're selling products where repeat purchases make sense, you're right. You can skip this post and circle back tomorrow for something new.
But if you have one core product, and there's not a good reason for a customer to buy a second version of the product (especially if they can upgrade their plan to get more site licenses, for example), then it does actually make a lot of sense to disable repeat purchases.
Because you've allowed your customer to do something stupid that they now have to admit to you, in order to get their money back.
None of us like to do stupid things. But you know what we like even less? To admit our stupidity to anyone else.
This doesn't happen with physical purchases nearly as much (but please don't let me tell you about the blender I once bought twice) as it does with digital products.
But in the software world, and especially in the WordPress ecosystem with plugins, it's easy to buy the same plugin twice over time. Even when you don't have to.
How Do You Stop Customers From Making This Mistake?
I'm going to tell you how to do this on WooCommerce. But you can likely find solutions like this for other eCommerce platforms.
The easy way is to get a WooCommerce extension called WooCommerce Disable Repeat Purchase.
If your customer is already logged in (hence WordPress and WooCommerce know who you are and what you've bought), it will eliminate the “Add to Cart” button on a product (of your choosing) and let them know they've already purchased the product.
If your customer isn't logged in, adds some previously purchased items to their cart, and then goes to checkout, it will pull those items from the cart and explain to them why they were removed.
Lastly, if you have a particular product that you want to leave as available for purchase repeatedly, you can mark that so that the plugin doesn't block it's repeat purchase.
In other words, it does one thing very well: it protects customers from buying products they've already bought before.
It's not for everyone. But it is for me. And for stores I create where most of what I'm offering is digital in nature and I don't want someone upset because I let them buy something they had already purchased.
I think you might enjoy it as well.