One of the most important things to consider when running an online store is the payment options for your customers. The payment gateways you pick have the ability to make or break your sales. If you choose the ideal payment gateway fitting your target customers, then you’re likely to bring in more sales. On the other hand, picking the wrong payment gateway can depress your sales by a significant amount.
On WooCommerce, there’s an enormous number of payment gateways to pick from. The complexity and the immense number of options can even discourage you from starting an e-commerce business. We’ve put together this article to ensure that you don’t face many difficulties picking the right payment gateway for your business. You’ll learn what a payment gateway entails, the essential factors to consider choosing one, and some of the best gateways your WooCommerce store can adopt
What is a payment gateway?
A payment gateway is a technology used by online merchants to accept debit card or credit card payments from their customers. The term encompasses the physical card-reading terminals found in brick-and-mortar retail stores and the payment processing portals used in online stores.
A payment gateway is a middleman facilitating a payment transaction by transferring information between a payment portal and an acquiring bank. Often, the gateway connects several acquiring banks and payment methods under a single system for easy accessibility.
A bank could provide a payment gateway to its customers, or a separate payment service provider could handle it.
How does a payment gateway function?
Every payment gateway includes these essential stakeholders;
- Merchant – The business selling a product.
- Cardholder – The customer making the purchase
- Issuing Bank – The bank holding the customer’s account.
- Acquiring bank – The bank holding the merchant’s account.
- Card networks – The companies that manage the card (Mastercard, Visa, and American Express are the most common).
- The cardholder initiates a purchase by clicking on the “buy” button on a merchant’s website.
- The payment gateway is alerted and checks with the issuing bank to ensure funds are available on the customer’s account.
- The payment gateway sends encrypted information to the card network to process the transaction.
- The card network approves the transaction and relays the information to the payment gateway. The gateway, in turn, forwards the data back to the merchant’s website to complete the transaction.
- The payment gateway sends a command to the acquiring bank to move money from the customer’s issuing bank to the merchant’s bank account.
- The transaction completes.
Types of payment gateways
There are three types of payment gateways:
- Self-hosted (on-site payment): The entire transaction occurs on your servers.
- Hosted (off-site payment): The customer purchases from the merchant, and the payment information goes to an external payment provider’s servers for processing. This is how point-of-sale systems operate.
- Redirect: The payment gateway redirects the customer to an external payment portal, such as Stripe or PayPal, to complete the transaction.
A payment gateway is necessary for every merchant who accepts online payments.
WooCommerce Payment Gateways
WooCommerce is one of the most popular e-commerce solutions globally, powering over 5 million websites. Given its extreme popularity, WooCommerce allows integrations with an enormous number of payment gateways. Popular payment gateways for it include Stripe, Authorize.net, Checkout.com, Affirm, and WooCommerce Payments.
Factors to consider when choosing a WooCommerce payment gateway
The massive number of potential payment gateways to use for a WooCommerce store can be overwhelming, so ensure to pick the few that’ll serve you best. There are certain factors to consider to make the payment gateway to integrate with your WooCommerce store. They include;
1. Transaction Fees
Every payment gateway has different fees they charge for every purchase. The fees typically have two components;
- A percentage of the transaction, usually between 2-5%.
- A small flat fee for each transaction, usually around $0.30.
The transaction fee from the same payment gateway usually varies depending on the type of transaction, whether credit card, debit card, or invoice.
The advice here is to pick the payment gateway that’s the most convenient and affordable. If you sell low-priced products (<$100), you should seek a payment gateway with the least possible transaction fees. If you sell high-priced products (>$500) and in high volumes, then high transaction fees may not be much of a problem for you.
2. Ease of use
Seek a payment gateway that a customer will find easy to use. The fact that a customer initiates the checkout process doesn’t mean they’ll make a purchase. If they get inconvenienced by the checkout process, they could abandon the transaction.
Some payment gateways have a reputation for being easier to use than others. For example, Stripe has a solid reputation for its relative ease of use and user-friendliness compared to its rivals.
3. Available payment methods
Take note of the payment options available to your target market and implement the corresponding payment gateways. For example, if your target market is people who often use cryptocurrencies, some payment gateways support that. If your target market is millennials that often use ‘buy now, pay later’ services, ensure to pick a compatible payment gateway, and so on.
4. Currency conversion
Converting currencies can be hectic when dealing with payment gateways due to financial regulations. Certain gateways often charge high fees for transferring between different currencies, especially those that aren’t common.
Find a payment gateway that supports multiple currencies with the lowest conversion fees if you have a significant target audience in foreign markets. A multi-currency payment gateway also makes your WooCommerce store seem global, which is favorable to your brand image.
5. Geographical Support
Due to strict financial regulations, payment gateways are often geographically limited. Some of the best payment gateways aren’t available in certain countries, and you can hardly do anything about that. Ensure to find the payment gateways available in your country and, if possible, has a local office that you can contact in case of difficulties.
You may discover workarounds to use specific payment gateways not usually available in your country, but if issues arise, then you can hardly contact anyone. We recommend choosing a payment gateway with a domestic presence in your country to avoid such problems.
Security trumps every other factor in importance when selecting a payment gateway. If your payment gateway isn’t secure, it could be a ticking time bomb for both you and your customers. Pick payment gateways with a good track record of appropriate security practices and avoid those with a significant history of security breaches.
You’re directly building trust with your customers by having a secure gateway.
WooCommerce Payment Gateways
Let’s look at some of the top payment gateways on WooCommerce and compare them against their peers.
Stripe is a trendy payment gateway on the market, owing to its neat design, easy-to-remember name, ease of use, developer-friendly interface, easy setup, and many other factors. Millions of merchants worldwide use Stripe, including big names like Amazon, Walmart.com, Target, and Shopify.
Stripe is very compatible with WooCommerce; it lets you embed payment forms directly on your store. With it, you can accept debit and credit cards in over 130 currencies and from virtually every country. Enabling Stripe on your WooCommerce store is as simple as installing the plugin and following the setup instructions given to you. Getting Stripe integrated into your store is straightforward if you qualify as a merchant.
Stripe’s key features include;
- Customizable design
- Embedded checkout
- Reporting & analytics
- POS integration
- Digital wallet integration
- Mobile payments
- Good reputation for customer support
- Developer-friendly documentation and features
- Reasonable transaction fees, compared to the industry standard
- Stripe isn’t available in all countries and regions, especially in Africa, Asia, & the Middle East.
Authorize.net is a very popular payment gateway for e-commerce stores based in North America. You can download the extension on WooCommerce to integrate it into your store, but it requires an annual payment of $79.
Authorize.net is a subsidiary of Visa Inc, the payments processing giant.
- Easy to set up
- High level of security
- Supports automatic subscriptions or refunds
- Only available to stores based in North America
- Requires annual subscription
Square is an independent payments processor owned by Block, Inc. You can use it to accept payments on your WooCommerce store without any annual payment required. Square charges 2.9% + $0.30 per WooCommerce transaction.
- One-click checkout
- Fast deposits
- No additional setup or monthly fees
- Not available in all countries
- High fees for large businesses
- Weak customer support
Checkout.com is a payment gateway designed for businesses with a large sales volume. It’s an ideal payment gateway if your store is large-scale and handles thousands of transactions. It’s available as a WooCommerce plugin if you want to use it to process payments.
Checkout.com is available in nearly 50 countries and supports over 150 currencies for payments. Compared to its payment processing peers, its fees are reasonable – 2.90% + $0.20 per transaction.
- It’s very customizable to suit your needs
- Market strength is mainly in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, but less so in Northern America
- Not suitable for smaller businesses
5. Amazon Pay
Amazon Pay is the payment gateway provided by Amazon, the e-commerce giant. Its main feature is that customers can use their existing Amazon accounts to make payments on your WooCommerce store. Considering the tens of millions of customers with Amazon accounts, this is a big advantage.
Because customers already trust Amazon with their credentials, they’ll find it easier to make payments on your site. Specifically, Amazon Pay helps reduce cart abandonment rates.
Amazon Pay is available in over 170 countries.
- Supports multiple currencies
- Seamless checkout, as customers already have an Amazon account with their stored credentials.
- No monthly fees or setup charges
- Amazon brand recognition encourages better trust
- Amazon itself may be a rival to your e-commerce store
- Customers need an Amazon account to make a payment
- Little customer support
- A reserve policy that delays payouts, especially for newer accounts.
6. WooCommerce Payments
WooCommerce has its own payments processor that stores can use to accept payments. It also lets you monitor charges, handle disputes, and keep tabs on recurring revenue right on your store’s dashboard.
- Easy to set up
- Supports recurring payments
- No monthly or annual fees
- Limited availability (in only 15 countries)
Choosing the right payment gateway is very crucial to the success of your WooCommerce store. There are specific factors to look out for to determine the best payment gateway for your store that’ll drive sales. Have a look at other payment solutions for WooCommerce.