I’m often asked to provide advice on what type of shopping cart / payment processor a business should implement. The answer is not quite so simple and in this article, I’ve tried to outline the processes and technologies that go together to deliver a payment and affiliate solution and offer some choices.
This is taken from information I provided within Wishlist Insider in response to a question about taking membership payments.
Let’s look at some terminology, first….
A payment processor is ‘the thing’ that sits between your website (typically a shopping cart) and your banks internet gateway into your account. It’s the bit that does the ‘heavy lifiting’ for credit card processing.
Payment processors include, but aren’t limited to: Authorize.net, 2CO, Securepay, EWay, Paypal and myriad of others.
Paypal does fall into this group, although it works a bit differently to the others.
Most of these processors offer an interface that we can code directly to and hook websites up to. This will eliminate the need for a shopping cart but, in my opinion, you are seriously better off considering a shopping cart to make your life easier.
This is the piece of software that controls your products, how much you charge for them, the description of the products, any sales discounts, postage / freight, coupon codes etc.
There are lots of shopping carts around, some are good, some are mediocre and others are just awful to use. Not all shopping carts support all payment processors nor do they interface with all software that will run on your site. Point in case, the integration with Wishlist Member between Shopping Carts can be limited.
Typically, there are two styles of shopping cart – hosted and self hosted.
The beauty of having a shopping cart is that you can generally have a couple of payment processors and offer more choice to your customers and it is much, much easier managing a catalogue of products rather than individual payment buttons for products.
Most of us start off this way – we log into paypal, generate the payment button, paste it into our site and away we go. It’s a good way to start. I’m now running into issues with multiple membership levels, multiple products etc trying to keep it all straight.
Paypal will do recurring and one off payments, put the money into your paypal account and you can transfer it to your bank account.
What should you choose?
I think the question is – what do you need / want and what can you support yourself?
Hosted shopping cart solutions will generally cost you a monthly fee – there is a cost to maintaining the service. For that monthly fee, most of the headaches disappear. The downside – a prime part of your business is in someone elses hands – be very, very certain that your dealing with someone reputable.
Self Hosted shopping cart solutions will have a higher start up cost – you have to install and customize the solution however, ongoing costs are typcially much, much lower. Most of the solutions I’ve seen just seem to run once they’re installed and may, or may not, require software updates or upgrades. I strongly suggest you have a techie type on your team that you can call on when issues arise.
A word of warning: 1SC and Recurring Payments
1SC doesn’t support recurring PAYPAL payments. If you are considering setting up a system that requires recurring payments (and that includes payment plans) and want to use Paypal to process payments exclusively, then 1SC is not the solution for you.
To be absolutely clear, 1SC DOES support recurring payments – with credit card payment processors.
What questions or experiences do you have with your current shopping cart – share your wisdom with other readers below….