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PayPal Reference Transactions: How to Set Up WooCommerce One Click Upsells with PayPal

Tavleen Kaur
February 15, 2018
PayPal Reference Transactions: How to Set Up WooCommerce One Click Upsells with PayPal

Paypal is a very popular payment gateway among WooCommerce store owners.

And also very trusted especially if you're considering setting up one click upsells in your store.

Nielsen Online Buyer Insights report revealed that Paypal Merchants see an increase of about 27% in conversions after integrating Paypal.

The total amount spent on their store also increases by an average of 15% and the transactions per customer doubles.

Popular WooCommerce PayPal Gateways

Let's take a look at the popular PayPal gateways for WooCommerce:

PayPal Standard 

Paypal standard comes bundled with native WooCommerce.

PayPal processes the payments through its own site and not through yours. The customers pay with a Paypal balance or credit card.

They're sent to PayPal from the checkout screen and you're charged a standard transaction fee per transaction.

After making the payment, the user is directed back to your website.

PayPal Express

PayPal Express Checkout (now rebranded as PayPal Checkout)  is very similar to the PayPal standard as there are no setup or termination fees. The transaction fee is similar to that in the standard.

But as the name suggests, it's the easier and faster way to make payments using PayPal as a payment gateway.

It makes the checkout experience even simpler. The users stay on your site or mobile app - they only approve the purchase on PayPal via a modal window and complete the checkout on your site.

PayPal also offers smart payment buttons that allow users to make payments without leaving your website.

🔔 Hot Tip: Try out this PayPal for WooCommerce by AngellEye. It has the feature to skip the final review of the order summary which has been reported to increase conversions.

Setting Up PayPal to Capture Payments For One Click Upsells

There are three ways to run one-click upsells in WooCommerce with PayPal Gateway.

Let's explore what those are:

Method #1. Get Reference Transactions enabled on your PayPal account

Reference transactions mean that when a buyer makes a purchase from your store, a Billing Agreement is created between the buyer and seller.

You can initiate subsequent transactions and capture future payments against this Billing Agreement, without your buyer going through the checkout process again.

Buyers do not need to re-enter their PayPal details or go through the same process again to make subsequent payments for the upsells.

This enables you to charge buyer with a single click.

How to get Reference Transactions enabled to run one-click upsells?

In order to get PayPal reference transaction, you must call your local PayPal Support Help center. Find the phone number listed here.

You can call them and let them know that you want to get reference transactions enabled on your account.

You can even submit an email application by logging into your PayPal account - and submitting your application through an email contact form.

Please keep these important points in mind:

  • When you contact PayPal support, you may not reach the right person in the first go. But you must keep consistently trying.
  • When you finally get to speak with the PayPal specialist, they may try to help you set up recurring payments through a button. But that's not what you want - you don't want subscriptions but one click upsells.
  • For post-purchase upsells, they'll transfer your call to a specialist for setting up post-purchase upsells with PayPal. And he will take your PayPal account details.
  • They'll also ask you to submit your store details. And we've seen that they do visit the site to check to ensure that terms and conditions/privacy policy etc. are in place.

One of our US-based customers followed these instructions step by step and got his account recently activated for taking one click upsells payments.

Here's the step-by-step upsell process with the reference transactions enabled:

Step #1: The user sees the upsell offer


Step #2: He clicks 'Yes, Add this to my order'

In a single click, the upsell is added to his order.



Step #3: He's directed to the next offer in the funnel or the thank you page

Method #2: Run One-Click Upsells without Reference Transactions

The process of getting ref transactions enabled typically takes 2-3 days for US-based based customers.

But for European, Asian and other customers - the PayPal laws can be even more stringent.

PayPal does not even explicitly mention their requirements anywhere. So it may take a bit of back and forth to get PayPal reference transactions enabled for your account.

In fact, we had a lot of non-US based UpStroke users kept telling us that the process was taking longer than they had expected, PayPal needed extensive documentation so on and so forth.

So we came up with an innovative solution.

When you use UpStroke one-click upsells with Paypal as a payment gateway on your WooCommerce store, you do not need to get reference transaction enabled anymore!

You can lead your buyers through your one-click upsell funnel. And they wouldn't have to re-enter their payment details to accept it.

Now without the reference transaction enabled, everything else remains the same except for one thing.

An additional intermediary step gets added between step #2 and step #3.

Your buyer has to click 'Continue' on this pop-up by Paypal Inc:


So this acts like a two-step confirmation.

You must understand that this is so much better than not being able to show him an upsell funnel at all.

Here's how to activate this setting in WooCommerce:

The PayPal user goes through the upsell funnel even without the reference transactions enabled.

So you have a chance to increase your order value through your backend funnels.


Method #3: Apply for PayPal through Braintree and your reference transactions will be turned by default

The reference transactions are by default turned on for merchants who are using PayPal via Braintree. So no additional work is required here.
And you can use PayPal as a gateway to collect payments for your one-click upsells without any additional hassles. The flow remains same as in Method#1.

UpStroke Compatibility with PayPal

UpStroke WooCommerce One Click Upsells is fully compatible with any method you choose from above.

You can choose any of these three methods to activate one-click upsell with UpStroke.

Watch this quick 45-second video to recap the difference between upsell flow with or without reference transactions:

If you choose to get reference transactions enabled then do get in touch with PayPal specialists to update your account information.

If you're based out of US, the process may not be as typical for you though it can take you up to 4 days to get things going.

But if you do not want to get reference transactions enabled and especially if you're not based out of the States then you may go with method #2.

Hope this guide helps in knowing inside-out of running post-purchase upsells using PayPal.

Author: Tavleen Kaur
Do you know after Amazon implemented the 1-click buy system, their sales shot up year-on-year hitting $88.9 Billion mark in 2014? Jeff Bezos attributed it to a friction-free & streamlined buying process. At FunnelKit (formerly WooFunnels), we're determined to give you the tools you need to do the same in your business. I am Tavleen and I help you get there faster.