Back in 2006, when I had recently started my own business, I built my first online store using Shopify. I was new to e-commerce and the Shopify platform was new as well. What I find cool now is that I was directly in touch with founder Tobias Lutke, who sometimes weighed in on technical support questions. Shopify is now publicly traded and is worth billions. The platform has dramatically grown and improved. And I haven’t been in touch with (now CEO) Tobias in a long time!
Since then I’ve built various e-commerce and membership sites. All have needed a way to reliably and securely collect payments. Here are the four payment processors I’ve used:
I’ve had the most experience using PayPal. As the grandaddy of the bunch, there’s a lot of code out there that works with PayPal but I can’t say I’m a huge fan anymore. The PayPal management dashboard is clunky, documentation is poor, and integration frequently fussy. I do like that PayPal offers the flexibility to handle payment processing on their own site or on the site I’m building. Having payment processing happen on the PayPal site offers the best security. Also, as a recognized name, PayPal gives buyers confidence when shopping on an online store.
A few years ago, a client asked to use Square for payment processing on their online store. I had seen Square for in-person credit card payments but wasn’t familiar with it as an online payment processor. Integration into the online store was quick and easy and I’ve been exploring how to use Square for other applications. Because of their presence in physical retail, Square can be a good solution for businesses with both online and offline sales.
My best experience has been with Stripe. Unlike PayPal, Stripe doesn’t offer payment processing on their own site – everything needs to be on the store site itself. However, Stripe really shines in having excellent integration, very good documentation, and responsive support. Stripe integrates well with other platforms. I’ve been using Stripe since 2014 and have been consistently impressed with it.
This brings us back to Shopify. In the beginning, Shopify didn’t have their own payment processing, instead relying on third-party services. Now, they offer their own payment processing. By under-cutting the competition on fees and of course with seamlessly working with their own e-commerce platform, they’ve expanded that side of their business. Integrating with the payment processor in the past was tricky, so for me as a developer, it’s one less thing to worry about when configuring a Shopify store.
All payment processors charge a fee (typically a percentage per transaction). The marketplace is competitive enough that they have similar fees so that’s not a big differentiator between platforms. They differ in how they are integrated with your website and on their reporting features. My go to option is Stripe but I would consider the others depending on the other components of the site.