Setup product fees on your Shopify store without the hassle of custom development.

There are two distinct paths to adding product fees onto a Shopify store: 

  1. Natively within the constraints of the Shopify platform.
  2. With the help of powerful apps that extend the functionality of Shopify.

Product fees are add-on charges applied on top of the retail price of a product, service, or to a customer’s entire cart at checkout. They are charged in a variety of ways and for a variety of reasons, from legal to environmental, and more, as was discussed in the first article of this series, What is a Product Fee? A Beginners Guide.

This means that any solution for adding them to a Shopify store best serves merchants when it is flexible enough to meet the needs of their business and create a clearly communicated distinction between the retail price of a product or service and the fee being added.

In this article, discover both the native Shopify and app-based solutions for adding product fees on Shopify stores.

Native Shopify Solutions for Product Fees

Lack of True Native Support

The natural place to begin when considering how to accomplish any goal in an eCommerce store is to review if it is possible with the native functionality of the platform it is built on.

In this case, while the ability to charge taxes and duties as well as shipping and delivery fees is built natively into the Shopify platform, they do not have a true solution for adding product fees.

The reason for this was revealed in an answer from a Shopify staff member in the Shopify Community forums:

“The main reason we don’t offer this in the admin by default is generally the more additional charges added on to an order at checkout, the more likely the checkout will be abandoned. In turn, lowering conversion rates.”

Morgan, Shopify Staff

While additional fees may lower conversion rates, this would only be dramatic in cases of excessive and ‘hidden’ fees sprung onto customers at the last moment. Rather, it is better to be transparent with customers as much and as early as possible in order to foster a greater sense of trust between them and your business.

Furthermore, there are situations where adding product fees is a requirement for the business, making Shopify’s reasoning a nonstarter for many businesses.

That being said, in the thread referenced above and others, Shopify staff outlined a variety of potential native solutions to charging product fees.

Explore these solutions below with an overview of how to implement each one as well as potential issues associated with them that should be considered.

… while the ability to charge taxes and duties as well as shipping and delivery fees is built natively into the Shopify platform, they do not have a true solution for adding product fees.

Solutions to Lack of Native Support 

1. Mark up or discount calculated shipping rates

How to implement it:

An additional fee or mark up on products can be added through the calculated shipping rates in the Settings > Shipping and delivery section of the Shopify admin as long as tax isn’t being charged on shipping. A flat rate, percentage or both can be added. Read the full instructions on the Shopify Help Center.

Shopify recommends doing this when the shipping rate being charged is too low to cover your entire packaging and handling costs.

Potential issues
  1. This method applies the fee as a flat fee to the entire cart. It does not adapt to the number of items purchased. This makes it insufficient in the case of something like a bottle deposit fee, which must be applied to each individual bottle.
  2. This method is only applicable when choosing “Use carrier or app to calculate rates” and not when choosing “Set up your own rates”.
  3. If the store does not charge shipping, it is impossible to use this method.

2. Add the fee into the cost of the product

How to implement it:

Rather than charging the fee separately as a visible product fee, a simple solution to the lack of true native support for visible product fees in Shopify is to manually add the fee into the cost of the product directly. This would make it what is known as an inclusive fee.

Shopify recommends this over methods which involve attaching the fee to shipping rates because the value of the product itself is inherently higher to customers. They will be less likely to abandon their purchase if a few dollars are added onto the cost of the product as opposed to if they see a higher ‘shipping’ cost.

Potential issues
  1. Product fees will be taxed as part of the whole product cost. This can be a problem for many merchants as typically they only want the product cost to be taxed.
  2. Some merchants have even claimed that Shopify disabled some items that employed this tactic because it violated their price gouging policies. This demonstrates some misalignment within Shopify about the usage of this solution, so exercising caution is recommended when considering its usage.

3. Add fee into product variants

How to implement it:

If the product fee differs based on the product or quantity, fees could be charged through the usage of product variants.

For instance, if the store is selling paint the variants could be structured as follows:

  • Half Pint of Paint (+$1.50 Eco Fee)
  • 1 Gallon of Paint (+$3.00 Eco Fee) 
  • 5 Gallons of Paint (+$15.00 Eco Fee)

Alternatively, if customers can order a set amount of the same size of paint, the variants could be built out with a tiered pricing structure that accounts for that. For example, “Two 1 Gallon Paint Cans (+$6.00 Eco Fee)”.

Potential issues
  1. Manually creating product variants for this purpose is a cumbersome task if the aim is to accommodate every customer choice that should ideally be available.
  2. Product fees will be taxed as part of the whole product cost. This can be a problem for many merchants as typically they only want the product cost to be taxed.

4. Add fee products and ask customers to manually add them

How to implement it:

First, manually add fee products based on each of the product fees that need to be active on the store. Then, ask customers to manually add them to their cart by including a notice with instructions and link on each applicable product page to the associated product fee.

This solution technically would allow for a wide range of product fees and would enable to avoid the issue of product fees being taxed created by many of the other solutions discussed in this article.

It would also make the product fee being charged a visible one, ensuring clear communication and transparency with your customers.

Potential issues
  1. The manual work required to implement this would be considerable given that not only would the products for the fees need to be created, but they would need to be matched up and linked to from the products they are associated with manually.
  2. It’s inevitable that some customers will not follow the instructions and add the appropriate product fee to their cart. This means that merchants would then be forced to deal with additional refunds and direct communication with customers to explain the problem.

Further Reading:

  1. Shopify Help Center – Mark up or discount calculated rates
  2. Shopify Help Center – Add Variants
  3. Shopify Help Center – Adding and updating products
  4. Shopify Community – Help Adding Product Fees
  5. Shopify Community – How To Add A Handling Fee

Shopify App Solutions for Product Fees

The native environment of the Shopify platform does not enable solutions for adding product fees that will satisfy the requirements of most merchants, but thankfully, the Shopify App Store does.

Shopify Apps enable much more sophisticated and customized solutions to be developed that fit the needs of any merchant.

Develop a new app

Developing a brand new app may be the best solution for businesses with a high budget, requirements for product fees that are very industry-specific, or in-house developers of their own.

However, while almost anything you can imagine is possible thanks to the freedom that the Shopify App environment provides, it can be expensive to develop something custom. It is also a slower process than installing an existing app.

Many app developers are open to receiving improvement feedback or feature requests, so before making the choice to embark on the journey to develop a new app, it is recommended for stores to consider trying out existing apps first.

If after trying that, a business determines that the development of their own app is the best path forward there are a plethora of developers around the world who can help.

The Shopify Experts directory is one of the best places to look, in that case.

Use a Product Option app to add product fees

Product Option apps allow for a wide range of functionality to be added on individual product pages. Included in some of them is the ability to add mandatory checkboxes, radio buttons, or another kind of selector that will add a charge to an order when it is selected.

With this, it is possible to force a product fee to be added on a product through, for instance, adding a checkbox that says “I accept the handling fee (+$2.00)”.

Similar to some of the native solutions to adding product fees however, adding them in this way may result in the fee being treated as part of the product price and is best suited for fees that accompany product upgrades, such as additional storage space on a laptop computer. If the product is taxed, but the fee is not, this solution will not work.

Using an app is the fastest and easiest way to charge fees on your website.

Use apps that support adding product fees (Recommended)

Purpose-built apps for adding product fees on Shopify are not only the easiest way to add product fees on Shopify, but the easiest to manage and most flexible as well.

They are designed to directly address the lack of native support for this functionality and the issues with any work-arounds in the native Shopify environment.

With these apps, it becomes possible to manage product fees independent of the products themselves or any other area of the store such as shipping rates. Product fees become managed on a higher, automatic level with rules-based conditions. Rather than a blanket fee applied across the store or having the need to manually add or manage fees product-by-product, businesses manage product fees from one central location within the app on their store.

Several apps for this purpose have been built. They include:

1. Magical Mandatory Product Fees App

Add Mandatory Fees, Deposit Fees, Handling Fees + More

View on App Store

2. Order & Product Fees App

Surcharge and order fees to increase your sales and AOV

View on App Store

3. Canteen Product Fees & Deposit App

Charge mandatory fees for deposits, recycling or setup fees

View on App Store

Adding mandatory fees to Shopify with apps is easier and more flexible.

The native Shopify solutions for product fees outlined in this article demonstrate that while methods that may support the needs of some businesses do exist, the fact is that app-based solutions are more flexible, easier to implement, and manage. 

Businesses are always looking for affordable, reliable solutions that enable them to fulfill their goals and serve their customers in an efficient, transparent manner. For those seeking to add product fees of any kind on Shopify, Shopify Apps are almost always the best way forward.


Magical Product Fees

The Magical Product Fees app is a fast and easy way to build, customize, and attach fees to products or entire orders.