If you are using WordPress as the platform for your eCommerce store then the great news is you have plenty of options. As well as the plethora of web hosting choices and WordPress themes, you also have a good selection of eCommerce plugins that can turn your website into a fully featured online store.
Amongst those eCommerce plugins is one standout option, WooCommerce. There are numerous reasons why WooCommerce is the most popular eCommerce plugin around. However, one of its many impressive features is the freedom it gives you over how you collect payments from your customers.
In this article, we’ll explain how you can choose the right payment gateway for your WooCommerce store. We will discuss the key points to consider when making a payment gateway selection, and look at the main features of Stripe, PayPal, and 2Checkout, to see if any of these options suit your needs.
Why Choose WooCommerce?
As mentioned there are many different eCommerce solutions for WordPress but the biggest name out there is WooCommerce. Not only is it widely used, but in what can be seen as a recent vote of confidence, it has been purchased by Automattic, a company that dedicates a large portion of their resources to the WordPress project.
WordPress, together with WooCommerce, is an extremely flexible and versatile platform for creating an eCommerce store. You can design and customize your site, making it unique to your brand and totally in sync with your audience’s needs.
The core WooCommerce plugin is free and provides you with enough functionality to start selling online. However, there’s a massive library of in-house and third party add-ons that you can use to upgrade your store.
As far as payment gateways are concerned, WooCommerce offers over 140 free and premium payment gateway extensions to choose from. This means that whatever you’re selling, whoever your customers are, and wherever they’re based, there are payment gateway options that will suit your business.
Altogether, this makes WordPress and WooCommerce the defacto choice for almost any eCommerce store, whether you are selling physical products or digital downloads.
What is a Payment Gateway?
There are many different ways to collect payments from your clients and customers. However, if you want to run a thoroughly modern online store, and collect payments on an automated basis, then a payment gateway is a great option.
In short, a payment gateway is an eCommerce service that authorizes payments between businesses and customers. Payment gateways facilitate transactions and process funds between buyers and sellers, taking care of the payment process for you.
Of course, there are many payment gateway options to choose from. Thankfully WooCommerce supports multiple payment gateways, so you will be able to select the right option for your online store.
Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Payment Gateway for your WordPress Website
Choosing a payment gateway can be a daunting task. Not only are their many different providers, but often each provider offers multiple plans as well. So before picking a payment gateway, do your research.
Don’t just pick the most popular payment gateway, consider your business, your audience, and your personal circumstances, to help you make the appropriate choice. Let’s now have a look at some of the main points to consider when selecting a payment gateway…
WooCommerce works with a number of different payment gateways. Some of these are provided for free, where as others are premium add-ons. If you are just starting out and are not flushed for cash, it is sensible to start out with a free payment gateway. You can always upgrade at a later date.
Other costs can include a signup fee, and a monthly or yearly subscription fee to the payment gateway provider. Transactions fees are also charged and can range in price depending on the service.
Direct v Redirect
Payments can be taken directly on your site or your customers can be redirected to the payment gateway site. Both of these options have pros and cons.
If you choose to have customers purchasing items and entering their card details on your site then you become responsible for the security of that data. This means you will need to purchase an SSL certificate, so data is encrypted when sent from browsers to servers, helping keep it safe and secure. However, always check this out as some payment gateways do take care of SSL for you. Hosting companies often include SSL too.
Using a payment gateway provider that redirects users to process payments, means that the provider takes sole responsibility for data security. However, the downside to redirecting payments is that customers often don’t like having this extended checkout on another site.
Consequently, using a redirect payment gateway option can lose you sales, as well as diminish your business’s credibility. A redirect option may be a good choice for new businesses, but as your eCommerce store grows, you should look to swap to a direct payment gateway.
The payment options accepted can be very important as they can make or break a sale. The larger your audience the more payments options you’ll need to cater for the extensive range of needs.
Always check a payment gateway accepts all major debit and credit cards. Then other payment options that may be beneficial include credit card types local to the area you are doing business in, Apple Pay, Android Pay and Bitcoin to name a few.
If you are selling to customers across the globe, then you need a payment gateway that caters for international transactions. Generally, people like to make purchases in their home currency, so you need to select a service that not only works for the countries where your audience resides, but that also accepts the relevant currencies. When taking payments from other countries, always check the fees charged by your payment gateway provider, as they often vary from country to country.
So now we know what to consider when selecting a payment gateway. But what are the main gateways available and what do each of them offer?
Stripe is an excellent payment gateway option for a WooCommerce store, and my number one favorite. Offered as a free extension, Stripe has no setup fees, no monthly fees, and no hidden costs. Fees are only charged when you get paid.
Easy to set up, Stripe takes payments directly on your site, whilst providing SSL security. All major debit and credit cards are accepted as well as Apple and Android Pay, Bitcoin, and lots more. Stripe also integrates with the WooCommerce Subscriptions extension, enabling you to collect recurring payments if needed. So whatever your customer’s preferred payment choice, Stripe can cater for it.
As for the user experience, Stripe provides a fast and seamless checkout. Minimal details have to be entered on the checkout payment form that is embedded on your site and works on desktop, tablet, and mobile. Customers addresses aren’t necessary, just email, and card details are remembered, meaning checkout can take just seconds. This can be particularly beneficial for the quick sale of digital products.
Lastly, Stripe is supported in numerous countries and accepts payments in over 100 currencies. Growing all the time, once Stripe is up and running in your home country, you can immediately take payments from all over the world. Perfect for international sellers.
PayPal is a well-established payment gateway that the general public know and trust. The core WooCommerce plugin gives you free PayPal functionality straight out of the box. Numerous PayPal extensions are also available. So let’s see what they have to offer…
PayPal Standard, that comes as part of the WooCommerce plugin, works by redirecting customers at checkout to PayPal’s website. Customers can then log into their PayPal account to pay, or checkout as a guest.
Although PayPal deals with all the payment and security details for you, the process takes customers away from your site. This increases the chances of them abandoning their shopping cart.
PayPal Express Checkout
PayPal Express Checkout is a free extension for WooCommerce. This extension enables you to add an in-context PayPal express button on your checkout page. When clicked by a customer, a lightbox popup will appear on your site. Here they can sign-in and pay with PayPal. Alternatively, customers can checkout as a guest.
This is a good option, as although customers never have to leave your site, PayPal still handle the transactions for you. The downside is customers still have to log in to PayPal to pay, or complete a lengthy checkout process.
PayPal Pro and PayPal Advanced are two of the premium extensions available for WooCommerce. These allow visitors to pay directly on your site, ensuring smooth transactions and a positive user experience. However, not only do you have the initial cost of buying these add-ons, there are also monthly fees to pay, and use is restricted to certain countries.
As you can see, the features of the PayPal extensions for WooCommerce vary greatly. If you think PayPal may be the payment gateway for you, then it is worth checking out the comparison table on the WooCommerce website to see which plugin would be the best option for your online store.
2Checkout is another popular payment gateway, with two premium plugins available to support your WooCommerce store. No start-up or monthly fees are charged for either add-on. However, rates will vary depending on countries and currencies.
2Checkout Plugin redirects customers to their site for payment. This means 2Checkout takes care of all payment and security issues. 2Checkout Inline Checkout enables payments to be taken on your website, in a lightbox popup, similar to PayPal’s Express Checkout. Both add-ons are available in 200 countries and 87 languages, making them good options for many.
All of the payment gateways mentioned here are great options. The key is to choose the one that best suits your unique situation. Consider cost, location, and what your audience will want during checkout, to help you make a decision. And remember, you can always change or upgrade your payment gateway in the future if your site’s needs change.
What payment gateway will you choose for your online store? Please share your thoughts in the comments below…