People will choose a payment gateway for a variety of reasons including transaction fees, ease of setup, cards/payment methods accepted, support, and of course “coolness”. Without a doubt the coolest gateway on the block right now, and our unabashed favorite, is Stripe.
Born out of a desire to remove the “pain” from payment processing, Stripe has achieved this goal by creating a payment processing option that’s beautiful, simple, and (dare I say) fun to use. Those of you with experience with some of the conventional payment gateways are probably questioning the use of the words “fun” and “payment processing” in the same sentence, and having implemented solutions in a number of the most common traditional gateways (I’ll let you guess who) I can fully understand the sentiment. Inscrutable, incomplete or downright incorrect documentation, drawn-out and opaque sign-up processes, high fixed monthly costs or minimum transaction requirements, and complex integrations are only some of the joys commonly experienced with the old school processors, and fortunately avoided with Stripe.
Setting Up an Account in 5 Seconds
Okay, perhaps it takes a few more than 5 seconds to begin collecting that first payment, but you can have a test account dashboard all of your own with a signup that literally takes seconds. Even your email and password are not required to have access to a Stripe dashboard and start poking around:
Stripe takes the all-important eCommerce principle of reducing friction to the extreme, allowing you to create and start playing around with their account dashboard without any risk or waiting.
Finalize your account by providing an email address, phone number, business address, and a bank account to link for transfers and you can start taking payments with Stripe. Within a week or two, a friendly Stripe employee will verify your account and possibly email you with some requests to complete your account creation. The last time I created a new Stripe account, it was for a site that we hadn’t launched (or really started on) yet, and Violet from Stripe requested that we create a list of products or services we were offering, as well as a means for customers to contact us; both things that we needed to do regardless. After taking care of those two minor requirements, our account was finalized and able to transfer payments to our bank account.
In keeping with their principle of simplicity and convenience, pricing is 2.9% + $.30 per successful transaction. While the transaction fees are higher than what can perhaps be found with some of the traditional processors, this is offset by the lack of a signup or monthly fee. This lack of a fixed cost was a big selling point for me when choosing a payment processor for my very first eCommerce venture when I had no customers, revenue, and a limited budget to work within. The transaction-based pricing model meant that I was only paying for processing services if I was actually making money and helped keep my monthly overhead very low.
Stripe has broad support among all the major eCommerce platforms (including almost every WordPress platform), so integrating it with your cart software is generally as simple as copying and pasting in your secret keys found in your Stripe dashboard. Need a custom integration? If you’re a developer you’ll find the extremely readable documentation and code samples make taking credit card payments easier than you might expect. Finally, if you just need a simple and quick way to safely collect credit card details for charging later on, you can use Stripe Checkout to add an attractive credit card form popup which handles validation, error handling, and securely transmitting payment information to Stripe servers:
Stripe is widely regarded to have outstanding support, and while I wish I could talk about some specific experiences, the truth is that accepting payments with Stripe has been so easy and straightforward that over this past year and a half I haven’t yet had any reason to get in touch with their support staff.
Chargebacks are an unfortunate reality of business, and as you might expect Stripe makes managing chargebacks frankly as painless as it can be. With a simple notification system and response interface it’s easy to manage and contest undeserved chargebacks. Just be sure to keep good records and save those server logs!
Who Shouldn’t Use Stripe?
If you’re an existing business with an established relationship, especially a brick-and-mortar branching into online sales, and you already work with a processor that supports eCommerce transactions, then I can understand sticking with them. However, if you’re a new e-shop just getting started, or are fed up with your existing payment gateway and want to try something new, we’d highly recommend giving Stripe a look and a test drive.
Here are some other recommendations for using Stripe:
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