There are many popular eCommerce platforms on the web, such as WooCommerce and Shopify, and they all offer a variety of payment gateways for accepting payments from your users. So, how do you decide which payment gateway to use? First, let’s go over some definitions.
- An eCommerce platform is a software application that lets online businesses manage all aspects of their digital store.
- A payment gateway is a service provided within that platform that processes user payments. The payment gateway is also what connects the payment processor and the merchant account.
- A payment processor is a service that communicates transaction information between banks.
- A merchant account is a bank account used by a merchant for collecting payments from customers and is required to use a payment gateway.
Two of the most common payment gateways are Authorize.net and Stripe. Let’s compare the two. First off, there are some subtle differences between the services Stripe and Authorize.net offer. Stripe is technically a payment service provider, while Authorize.net is a payment gateway provider. This means that Stripe provides more of an all-encompassing payment process, which consists of a payment gateway, merchant account, and payment processing. It allows you to get payments up and running right away when you sign up. Now with Authorize.net, since they only provide a payment gateway, there are some additional steps to set things up. Luckily, if you don’t have a preference on merchant accounts or payment processors, Authorize.net offers an all-in-one plan that connects your payment gateway with a third-party merchant account and payment processor.
What about the money?
Stripe is overall less expensive than Authorize.net. Stripe and Authorize.net both charge a 2.9% + $0.30 fee to process online payments. However, Authorize.net charges an additional $25 a month, while Stripe has no monthly fee.
If Stripe is cheaper and also a great product, why would I ever want to use Authorize.net?
Authorize.net is very flexible. It works with just about every merchant account and payment processor, so it can easily be integrated into an existing payment infrastructure. It’s an excellent choice if you’re not building a website from scratch but instead just adding the ability to accept online payments.
So what’s the verdict?
Like most things, it depends on what type of site you have and what you want to do. Stripe is an excellent choice if you’re launching an eCommerce site from scratch and want to accept online payments right away. Also, if you need a highly-customized payment experience, Stripe offers a lot of options for customization. Authorize.net, however, is a great option if you already have a merchant account provider with a low rate and want to continue using that provider with your payment gateway. You may even choose to go with another payment gateway, such as Square. Square has the same processing fees as Stripe and Authorize.net, but also offers free mobile card readers and a free point-of-sale application that can be used in a storefront, as opposed to strictly online sales. Square is an excellent choice for small businesses with a physical presence that might also offer online sales.
So, before choosing a payment gateway for your business, it’s important to consider the immediate needs and future trajectory of your company, and weigh the pros and cons of each option. Most payment gateways can be made to work with the majority of businesses, so it comes down to picking the one that gives you that slight edge. Consider what’s important to you as a business and what will best fit into your current systems, make a decision, and get to selling!