Retail eCommerce sales are projected to hit $260 billion in the United States by the end of 2023, up from $232 billion in the previous year. Considering this surging growth, there’s no better time to start an online business.
But let’s face it: Even if you’ve developed the best products or services, your WooCommerce store will only offer a window-shopping experience until you’ve set up a payment gateway.
With cyberattacks at an all-time high, setting up a secure payment gateway is paramount to your success as a business owner. In fact, the FBI received 800,944 complaints of cyber crimes, with losses of over $10.3 billion in 2022.
And, with hundreds of online payment processors guaranteeing maximum security, it may be challenging to choose the right payment gateway for your WooCommerce store.
WooCommerce: A brief overview
WooCommerce is an open-source WordPress plugin that enables store owners to sell items on their websites. This plugin allows you to transform a basic WordPress website into a professional online store within minutes, even if you have no coding experience.
WooCommerce is currently installed on over 6.1 million websites, making it one of the most popular eCommerce extensions in the world. It enables you to add new product listings and manage other aspects of your store, including payment processing.
So, instead of manually processing payments, you can leave it to a payment gateway while you focus on other business activities like marketing and customer acquisition. Not only does this save time and effort, but it also prevents cyberattacks because top payment solutions implement ironclad security measures to protect your website and customer data.
Whether you want to accept payments via Discover, American Express, Visa cards, PayPal or even in a foreign currency, WooCommerce streamlines transactions by connecting your eCommerce store to secure payment gateways.
However, you’ll pay a percentage of each transaction as a processing fee. These fees vary based on your location and the payment gateway you choose. For example, if you use WooPayments in the U.S., you’ll generally pay 2.9% + $.30 for each transaction.
A payment gateway is an online payment processor that allows you, the merchant, to accept payments from customers. These third-party companies act as an intermediary between your online store and your customer’s bank.
Here’s how it works: A customer places an order on your online store and chooses a payment method. This could be a debit card, credit card or an online payment processor like PayPal.
Then, they submit their payment details at checkout, and this data is automatically forwarded to your payment gateway. The gateway checks with the issuing bank to verify whether the payment has been made, and once everything is confirmed, the gateway authorizes a payout to you.
While this may seem complicated, it typically happens in just a few seconds.
To sum it up, your payment gateway:
- Verifies the customer’s billing information.
- Authenticates whether the customer has sufficient funds to make a purchase.
- Approves or denies the request, allowing your store to issue a confirmation number.
- Issues payments to you.
Types of WooCommerce payment gateways
WooCommerce offers several options when it comes to taking payments. The best part is you don’t have to commit to just one payment gateway. You can choose from the best WooCommerce payment gateways, including WooPayments, Stripe, Square and PayPal.
Payment gateways are grouped into two broad categories: classic and modern gateways. Let’s explore each option to help you decide what works best for your online business.
Classic gateways require you to set up a vendor account in order to accept payments. Under this category, payment processors enforce strict verification methods to confirm you’re running a legitimate business.
Classic payment gateways charge reasonable transaction fees, so they’re a great fit for large-scale businesses that prioritize cost-effectiveness while handling high-volume transactions.
Popular classic gateways include Authorize.net and Worldpay. Most eCommerce business owners prefer Authorize.net because it accepts eChecks and all major credit cards.
Unlike classic payment gateways, modern gateways don’t require you to create a vendor account. These gateways are designed to be as convenient as possible, so they simplify the sign-up process, allowing beginners to set up payment methods with less hassle.
Modern gateways charge relatively higher transaction fees than classic gateways. If you’re running a large-scale eCommerce store with high-volume transactions, these fees quickly add up and may eat into your profit. So, modern gateways are ideal for smaller businesses that handle fewer transactions.
It’s important to note that each payment solution offers unique features, so one gateway may be more suited to a particular type of transaction. If you want to optimize your WooCommerce checkout page for more conversions, you need to choose a payment solution that best meets your needs.
At this point, you’ve probably decided whether you want to use a modern or classic payment gateway. Still, choosing a specific payment processor can be challenging, as there are numerous options available in the market.
To help you make the right decision, here are some factors to consider when choosing a payment gateway for your WooCommerce store.
Your customers want a payment gateway that’s easy to use. A gateway with a steep learning curve could lead to abandoned carts and fewer sales.
The gateway’s ease of use should carry over to you too. You want a gateway that seamlessly allows you to offer discounts, adjust subscriptions and issue refunds if needed. If your payment gateway is too finicky, you might not be able to adjust your pricing as often as you desire, and this impacts your ability to adjust to market dynamics.
You want your customers to have multiple payment options when checking out. The more options you offer, the higher your chances of making a sale.
If your payment gateway supports different payment methods, it ensures customers can find their preferred options and complete their transactions. So, you want to make sure the payment gateway you choose supports the most convenient payment methods and allows customers to pay in any currency.
Choose a payment gateway that integrates with third-party tools like your customer relationship management (CRM), analytics and marketing tools.
Such compatibility streamlines business operations and accelerates revenue growth. If you need help finding a payment gateway that meets this requirement, read through customer reviews to ensure your chosen gateway works well with other tools.
Customers will only shop on your website if they feel safe enough to provide their billing information. Choose a payment gateway that ensures your customer’s sensitive details are safe from unauthorized access. These include credit card numbers, billing addresses and other personal information.
To ensure maximum security, the gateway you choose must comply with regulatory standards like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). By choosing a secure gateway, you’ll give your customers peace of mind when shopping on your website.
Depending on the nature of your business, you may need to set up one-time payments or automatically charge customers on a weekly, monthly or annual basis. If you’re running a subscription-based business, choose a payment gateway that allows you to set up recurring payments.
While most popular gateways allow subscriptions, each offers slightly different features, so you need to choose the option that best meets your needs.
Each payment gateway charges different transaction fees, and some may even charge setup fees. In some cases, this depends on location — both yours and your customers’
For example, if your WooCommerce store is located in Canada, WooPayments charges 2.9% + $0.30 for each local transaction. However, if a customer from Australia makes a purchase, you’ll be charged the base fee, 1.5% to cover the international transaction, as well as 2% for currency conversion.
Stripe charges the same 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction for Canadians, but its international transaction fee is only 0.8% + 2% for foreign currencies. If you want to cut down on expenses, it makes sense to shop around and find the most affordable gateway for your store.
Configuring your online business to accept payments is a pretty straightforward process. Once you’ve chosen your preferred gateway, follow this tutorial to start taking payments on your WooCommerce website.
Log in to your WordPress admin dashboard and navigate to Plugins.
Type ‘WooCommerce’ in the search bar and tap the Install Now button.
Some popular payment gateways will pop up on your screen. You can install your preferred gateways right away or do so at a later time.
After installing WooCommerce, your WordPress dashboard will display a WooCommerce tab. Click the new tab to start configuring your payment method.
Build your catalog by adding new products to your online store. Navigate to WooCommerce > Home > Add products to sell > Add products.
Once you’ve clicked the Add products button, you’ll be redirected to a new page where you’ll need to provide product data.
On this page, you can add a product name, upload high-quality images, write a compelling description, set your prices and add other relevant information about the product. At this point, you’ll need to specify whether you’re adding a simple product or a subscription-based item.
WooCommerce allows you to update your product data, so you can always go back and edit it.
3. Choose your theme
Customize your WordPress site with a theme that reflects your brand’s personality. WooCommerce offers several themes to choose from.
And, if you’re hosting your website on Bluehost, there are numerous customizable themes and templates to work with. Bluehost WonderSuite provides comprehensive tools that let you customize every part of your WooCommerce website, from the product layouts to the checkout page.
WooCommerce usually recommends its payment solution, WooPayments. While you don’t have to use this gateway, it does come pre-integrated with many popular payment services, including digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay. It’s also built in partnership with Stripe, so payments made through WooPayments are processed via Stripe.
You can either install WooPayments or select a different payment processor. Either way, you’ll next be directed to select another gateway.
You can enable PayPal Payments, Amazon Pay, Klarna and more with one click. Each gateway has its own requirements and pricing structure, which you’ll need to consider before making a choice.
Once you’ve installed a payment gateway, you’ll need to share some details about your business.
To get started, click the Connect button under ‘Configure your WooPayments account.’ You’ll be redirected to a merchant account setup form where you can provide relevant information about your business.
To wrap up the process, you’ll need to provide your personal data, including your bank account number, which allows you to receive local payments. Once you’ve submitted the form, the payment gateway will review your information before approving your account.
At this point, you might be done setting up payments, but make sure to follow best practices before finalizing the checkout process for your eCommerce store.
After setting up your preferred payment gateway, you can start accepting WooCommerce payments. By choosing the right payment gateway, you’ll provide a safe way for customers to complete transactions on your website. But if you want to drive sales and ensure customer satisfaction, here are some best practices to implement.
There are several payment gateways available, but not all of them are made equal. Ensure the gateway you select is PCI-compliant. This means that the gateway complies with all the standards set by the payment card industry to protect customer data.
This helps you build authenticity in your niche, ultimately increasing customer loyalty. Major credit card companies such as Stripe and Square are PCI-DSS certified and compliant with other industry standards too.
An uncluttered and convenient checkout process drives conversions and helps you create a hassle-free shopping experience for your customers. Don’t include unnecessary steps or several pages, as shoppers may get confused and abandon their carts. Stick with the essentials.
You generally don’t need customers to provide all their personal information when filling out a payment form. To create a seamless shopping experience, aim for one-page checkouts with fewer form fields.
Clearly state your refund policies so customers have the right expectations when shopping on your online store. Consider stating your policies on a dedicated refund page and linking to it on the checkout page. This gives customers access to all the information they need before making a payment.
If you offer both physical and digital goods, you might need two separate refund policies. Most digital goods are non-refundable, but many physical goods are, so be sure to explain this to your customers.
Keep track of your store’s performance. WooCommerce has a reports feature that allows you to see how many of your customers are completing their purchases and measure how many refund requests you receive over a specific period.
Most payment gateways integrate with SEO tools and other WooCommerce plugins so you can measure not only how your store is performing in sales but how it’s doing from a marketing perspective as well.
A 2022 PayPal survey found that 59% of online shoppers abandoned their carts because their preferred payment methods weren’t available. So, using multiple payment gateways is a smart move if you want to increase conversion rates.
Let’s say you decide to sign up for WooPayments. This gateway accepts digital wallet and credit card payments. However, it leaves out one major online payment option — PayPal.
To resolve this, consider installing WooPayments in addition to a payment gateway that allows shoppers to pay via PayPal.
Figuring out how to accept WooCommerce payments can seem difficult if you’re new to eCommerce. However, it’s a quick and straightforward process — once you get the hang of it.
To increase your chances of making a sale, choose a payment gateway that is compatible with your eCommerce platform and convenient for your customers. Consider installing multiple gateways for an added advantage — customers get a range of payment options to choose from.
While you can protect customer data by choosing a PCI-compliant gateway, you’ll get maximum security when you choose a web host that prioritizes your security.
WooCommerce hosting with Bluehost includes everything you need to build a professional website. With a free SSL certificate and a free domain for the first year, you can cut down on expenses while launching a secure online store.