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Payment gateways are crucial for any online store. After all, just how are people going to pay you for your products online? They are going to have to use a payment gateway on your website to do that.

And there are a lot of great options out there for you to use. There’s PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.net and more. So today let’s take a look at what payment gateways are and some of the best ones out there that you might want to use.

And before we get started, if you want to see more videos about ecommerce and other website related topics, be sure to hit the subscribe button and ring the bell for notifications.

Now let’s get started.

What is a payment gateway

So first things first. A payment gateway is essentially your key to taking payments online. According to BigCommerce, a payment gateway is “a merchant service that processes credit card payments for ecommerce sites and traditional brick and mortar stores.”

Essentially, payment gateways act as your cash register for your website. Everyone needs to use it in order to check out and “take” their purchased products.

There are three methods on how gateways complete the transactions. The first is to completely redirect the user to their own website to take their credit card information and what not, and that is primarily used by Paypal. The second is to complete the checkout process on your website, but run all of the payment information on their own website, which is what Stripe does. And the third, which is a little bit more trickier and deals with PCI compliance, is to keep it all on your website.

Why do payment gateways matter?

Well, the answer is pretty easy. They help you take payments from your customers in a super easy way. If it wasn’t for them, you would have to build out your own code to take payments and transfer it into your own bank account. And that would take a lot of time or would simply be impossible for you.

Most gateways have extensions or plugins that help them work with your content management system. For example, there are WooCommerce add ons that help connect it with the four different types of gateways we’re going to be talking about today.

Plus, as I mentioned a little bit before, payment gateways help you with PCI compliance, which is basically a set of standards for taking payment and credit card information. Most, if not all gateways, will take that credit card information and store it on their website rather than yours. While there are other aspects of PCI compliance, such as SSL and using HTTPS, keeping card info off of your website is pretty big.

Simply put, payment gateways make everything so much easier for you and your customers.

Paypal

Speaking of Paypal, while it isn’t my favorite, it’s still a very solid choice for any small business.

For starters, it has the best name recognition for everyday customers. Most people have never heard of some of the other payment gateways, but they have heard of Paypal. So they’ll probably be a bit more trusting in using that service. Plus, some people will likely have a Paypal balance that they can pay with without having to enter credit card information.

Plus, the set up for Paypal is a little bit easier. For a number of Paypal extensions, all you need is your Paypal email instead of a bunch of different keys. And for the most part, users will be sent to Paypal to enter in their information, meaning you don’t have to worry too much about credit card security and all that on your site. You will, however, need to manually make withdrawals to your bank account.

So if you need something basic and known, Paypal is a pretty good way to go.

Stripe

Stripe is honestly my preferred payment gateway when dealing with online payments. It’s really the perfect gateway for any small business.

For starters, Stripe makes it much easier to manage customers. The Stripe dashboard shows a whole lot more data, which is key if you’re trying to keep track of trends. You can also keep track of customers, invoices and a bunch of different information. You don’t really get that with Paypal unless you get one of their business plans.

Also, the Stripe add ons for top plugins like WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads, Give and other plugins and extensions make it super easy to integrate with your website. There’s no need for users to be taken to another screen or have to remember login credentials for Paypal. They can just enter in their information like they would anywhere else.

Stripe does take a cut of each sale you make, which is essentially their way of making you pay for it. But it’s no different than Paypal, and I’ve found it to be well worth it.

Authorize.net

Authorize.Net takes the cake as the oldest payment gateway on this list. The gateway has been around since 1996, so they’ve been around the block a bit in this area.

Like Stripe, Authorize.Net allows for easy credit card transactions. In addition, it also allows for e-checks and fraud detection, like Braintree. And there are extensions for it with WooCommerce, Easy Digital Downloads and Give and likely other ecommerce plugins and extensions.

Honestly though, I haven’t worked with this one before, so I can’t personally say how great (or not great) the experience is with the Gateway. But if it’s been around for this long, they are definitely doing something right.

Braintree

If you’re looking for something a little bit bigger that you feel can comfortably scale, Braintree is a payment gateway that you’re probably going to want to check out.

It supports 130 different currencies and allows you to customize the payment flow for customers. Like Stripe, it’s gateway can easily integrate to the look and feel of your website. And it also has extensions for all of the top WordPress ecommerce plugins.

Honestly, I haven’t used it before, but I have heard good things about it, especially if you’re expecting to grow your business fairly quickly. If you are looking for the fancy features, it can get kind of pricey. The base transaction fees are 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction, and then features like “Account Updater” and “3D Secure” add on to that cost.

Still, if you’re looking for something that can scale with your business, it’s probably something worth checking out.

Up Next

So what questions do you have about payment gateways? Have you used one before? What was your experience like? Do you have any recommendations for others? Be sure to leave your answers down in the comments section below.

Next week we’ll discuss how you can connect your online store to Google Analytics to gain more insights into how people are using your online store. And we’ll also discuss Easy Digital Downloads and how to create web funnels.

To see those and more videos on ecommerce, WordPress, digital marketing and other website related topics, be sure to hit the subscribe button and ring the bell for notifications.

But until next time, I wish you and your business the best of luck.

Links

Timestamps

  • 00:34 — What is a Payment Gateway?
  • 1:27 — Why do Payment Gateways Matter?
  • 2:30 — PayPal
  • 3:22 — Stripe
  • 4:15 — Authorize.Net
  • 4:53 — BrainTree