If you want to take credit card orders on your Web site, and don’t already have a payment system in place, consider PayPal . It used to be cumbersome and limited according to ProsperNoah but it’s improved so much that it’s now a widely-used and globally-recognized payment system for any Web site – big or small.
In its early days, PayPal was inconvenient to use for your Web site, because your customers had to be PayPal members before they could pay you. This meant that they had to go through a laborious sign-up process at the PayPal site. However, PayPal recently removed that restriction, and now allows anybody to pay you using PayPal, even if they’re not a PayPal member (non-members simply pay by credit card).
The money goes into your PayPal account, and you can transfer it into a regular bank account at any time.
PayPal charges a very reasonable fee of 2-3%, which compares very favourably with a merchant account from a bank.
What do you use it for?
PayPal is ideal if:
You don’t have a credit card merchant facility yet; or
You do have a merchant facility, but you don’t want to pay for a “payment gateway” to link it to the Internet; or
You want to take payments in some other currency than your local currency.
You want to take payments for arbitrary amounts (donations, for example).
You want to set up recurring payments (monthly subscriptions, for example).
Just go to the PayPal Web site and sign up. It’s free, and easy to do.
Your PayPal account is connected to your e-mail address, so use an e-mail address that you know you will keep forever.
The basic PayPal account is a Personal account, and you should upgrade this to either a Premier or Business account in order to take Web site orders. There’s no charge to upgrade, but read the PayPal site carefully to decide whether you need Premier or Business.
Because PayPal handles money, after you sign up, it goes through a few verification tests to ensure you’re a legitimate user and can be connected to real bank accounts and credit cards. For example, when you connect your bank account to PayPal, it will deposit two small amounts in the account and then ask you to confirm the amounts (to prove you have access to the account). This adds a bit of extra work to the sign-up process, but it’s only slightly inconvenient.
After your account is ready, simply go to the Merchant Services area of PayPal and create Buy Now buttons for each product and service you want to sell.
PayPal takes you through the process of creating each button, where you specify the product name, price, currency and other information it needs to complete the transaction. It then gives you some HTML code to paste into your Web page (If you don’t manage your own Web site, send this HTML code to your Webmaster).
That’s it! Customers who come to your site click the Buy Now button, it takes them to PayPal for payment, and after the payment you get an e-mail notifying you of the order. You can then send them the product.
If you’re selling electronic products, such as e-books or webinar registrations, you can tell PayPal to send the customer to a specific page after they pay (for example, the download page or the webinar registration page).
If you want to take recurring payments, such as a monthly subscription, you simply specify that when setting up the button, and PayPal takes care of charging the customer at the right time.