Once upon a time you had only a couple of options if you wanted to take money for products or services online. You either had the complex WooCommerce or the simple PayPal buy now button. The solutions were aimed at two ends of the market, but there was little in the middle that allowed you to have the simplicity of the PayPal button but with some of the features of WooCommerce. That changed, and now there are a number of options out there that cover the middle ground – options that might be right for your e-commerce plans and your budget.
WooComerce is one of the most popular online store plugins to WordPress out there. Owned by the same people that created WordPress, WooCommerce the base product is free, while the WooCommerce add-ons are a mixture of free and premium. Although the WooCommerce badged addons such as membership, subscriptions, etc can be expensive, there are usually third party add-ons that do the same job but for less money.
So the pros of WooCommerce are:
- Base product is free.
- It is flexible and can be extended with a comprehensive ecosystem of third party add-ons that can provide you with the ability to open almost any kind of store. Add-ons are out there that can schedule deliveries, limit them to certain areas, analyse your sales, and use almost any type of gateway.
- Most, if not all gateways are supported. The big two, PayPal and Stripe, have multiple options, but there are also facilities for WorldPay, cheques and bank transfers if your target customers are not fully signed up to online payments.
- It can be used in membership sites, and to facilitate online learning.
- Once you have your template, you can easily add new products without having to create each product page by hand.
- Inventory control for physical goods
And the cons:
- If you have a complex operation, or even an operation that doesn’t work using the base product, the cost of WooCommerce add-ons can soon add-up.
- Initially it seems very complex, and there is a learning curve you will have to go through to set your store up.
- The store will take some time and thought to configure.
- Your site will be slightly slower to load with WooCommerce.
PayPal Buy Now Buttons
If you only have a few products, then PayPal buttons might be for you!
The PayPal buttons are very easy to set up as most of the work is done within the PayPal dashboard. Only the final step is done within WordPress, which is to copy a small piece of code into the editor of the page you are working on.
The pros of the PayPal buttons are:
- Most of the setup is simply filling in forms and following instructions.
- Other options are available such as subscribe,gift certificate and donate.
- Although you pay for the transaction, the buttons themselves are free.
While the cons are:
- The button look and feel might not tie in with your site’s branding. The only way to change this is through coding.
- You will have to manually create a button for every product you have.
- You can’t ask for any extra information about the customer unless you upgrade to PayPal Pro and then create your own checkout page. At this point your easy payment processing is looking a little less easy.
So really, PayPal buttons are a good idea if you only have a couple of products or services to sell and you don’t need extra information from the customer.
If you don’t want to use Paypal financial services, then the free plugin, Stripe Payments – with their 4½ star reviews, allows you to easily set up Stripe payments. This works in a similar way to the PayPal Buy Now buttons, but the bulk of the work is done within your WordPress site.
The Middle Ground
There is the third way, a middle ground between a full service e-commerce solution and a simple button on a page.
Each of these middle ground plugins offer overlapping functionality, but have enough differences that there will be one that suits you.
WP Simple Pay is one of these plugins, and is the one I use on this site. It allows for single purchases, variable amount purchases for invoice payments, and subscriptions where an amount is taken from your customer every so many days, weeks or months.
The pros for WP Simple Pay are:
- Easy to set up,
- Lightweight – it adds only a negligible amount of delay to your page being processed,
- It accepts coupons,
- The plus version enables you to set up subscriptions. This is important to Chilli Designs as the subscriptions are used to pay for the website care that I do for my clients,
- Customized checkout forms with extra fields and a drag and drop form creator,
- Custom amounts, product variations and donations,
- the ability to use Apple, Microsoft and Google Pay.
And the cons?
- There’s no shopping cart, so should be used on sites with only a few different products and/or services.
Other mid-range options are:
- Easy Digital Downloads – A complete e-commerce system for people that are selling digital files. The plugin includes customer management, a shopping cart, coupons and the payment gateway. The five pages of extensions mean you can create subscriptions, enable social discounts, and store your files away from the web server (important as you grow bigger).
- WP Forms, Gravity Forms – two form plugins that allow you to take payments using Stripe. With these options you can get a lot of complex information from your customer before enabling them to buy you product or service. However, you could be paying between $US200 and $US260/year for this facility, so while it is not necessarily a cheap option, it may be a great one if you need a lot of information from your customer.
- Full Stripe – recurring payments, one off payments, donations and invoice payments.
Before You Decide
Before you decide on the e-commerce functionality you want on your website, you need to understand exactly what your business is going to do, how it will do it, and how you think your requirements will change as you grow.
If you are a one product store and you don’t expect that to change, then Stripe Payments or Paypal will do the job. On the other hand, if you are looking to create a meal delivery service, or you are sending products around the world and have complex shipping arrangements, then WooCommerce is probably a better option for you.
If however, you are looking for something that’s not full service, but gives you a little more control over your payment processing, then look at this middle ground it’s very probable that there is something there that could help you.