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Payment Gateway Integration: 101 Guide for Ecommerce

A merchant + consumer = a successful transaction? A purchase or a 1 star review? 

Ah, this couple – they deserve each other. There’s so much going on between them. Like an orchid and wasp: call it fascination or appeal.

Their relationship, however passionate or chilly it is, has to go through the eye of a needle, which is a purchase.

In ecommerce, these mating dances are happening in the territory of digital. And it is important that this digital environment is flawless.

Today we can pay online with literally one click. But this simplicity comes with a great infrastructure that is hiding under the hood.

Let’s take a closer look at what the payment gateways are today.

A guided tour of payment gateways

I. Payment gateways as a crucial part of ecommerce

II. Which payment gateway to use for your business? The big 7 

III. Payment integration methods: types and how they work

IV. How ecommerce platforms work with payment gateways

I. Payment gateways as a crucial part of ecommerce

Payment Gateway integration 101 guide

A payment gateway runs the whole show of ecommerce working as a somewhat go-between or a “linker” to facilitate online transactions. 

Most commonly, these are money flows from those who pay for services and commodities – to the people who offer those services and goods via their websites.

Thanks to the payment gateway, online shoppers can pay for products and services in the blink of an eye. 

By verifying the information provided by the payees, it analyzes whether to approve the transaction. Thus, it also considerably reduces the risk of fraud, enabling safe and secure cashless transactions between the participants involved in ecommerce interactions. Read how payment gateway works in detail.

Payment gateway is meant for:

  • regulating cashless online payments between buyers and sellers;
  • proceeding verification of payment details for all parties involved;
  • reducing the possibility of fraud;
  • keeping personal data secure.

Payment gateway is not an equivalent of payment processing 

Even though terms like "payment processing" and "payment gateway" are often used interchangeably or sold under the same brand, the difference between them is significant.

Payment processing has been around for a long time. It came about with the rise of credit cards and has been part of bank systems in some ways for decades. Payment gateways, on the other hand, are a fairly new piece of technology that came about with the rise of online stores.

With payment processing, money can be sent from a payee's bank account to a seller's bank account. For this example, let's say that a "seller" is any service provider that lets you pay online. Payment processing lets businesses handle a wide range of fees correctly (such as credit cards, particular banks).

After getting the credit card information from the customer, the payment gateway sends it to the payment processor. Thus, payment gateway is used both at the beginning of a transaction and at the end, when the transaction is complete.

During payment processing, all data and information sent between the bank of the payer and the bank of the recipient is stored securely.

Payment processing: process flow 

Payment processing essentially is based on three pillars: encryption, authorization, and settlement.

Let's take a look at what happens in detail: 

  • Online shoppers hit the "buy" button;
  • They are requested to input their card information so that the transaction may be completed successfully, and then, once all the information has been entered, it is sent securely to the payment gateway.
  • Fraud may be avoided and the data can be delivered to its proper financial institution thanks to cyber guards and other security measures.
  • After the card's validity has been confirmed, the gateway initiates the transaction by submitting a request to the buyer's bank to begin processing the payment.
  • The money is moved from the issuing bank to the acquiring bank, where it is then placed into the merchant's account. 
How does payment gateway work

Features & characteristics of a payment gateway

Flexibility

First off, both for merchants and shoppers, flexibility is this silver-bullet feature everybody wants, when it comes to picking the right gateway for their ecommerce website. 

The more options payment gateway can offer out-of-the-box, the less tweaking you will need.

When analyzing the level of flexibility for your digital enterprise, you would also think in terms of pricing and technological skills you need to govern the technology.

Security

Data protection is the essential requirement that buyers demand the most. As a result, gateways that use high-security protocols dominate the race. 

To ensure the security of customer data, payment processors employ SSL.

Personal information can also be transferred over public channels safely by setting up encrypted channels.

Fees

Most of the time, payment gateways assess a fee for each every transaction that takes place on your ecommerce website. 

This cost could change depending on the location of your company, the type of credit card your consumers prefer, and other factors.

Other сharges

There is a possibility that implementing a payment gateway will incur additional costs for you.

This might include costs for account management, fees to withdraw money from the bank, or fees for setting up the account.

These fees may be a hassle for businesses, especially newer ones that are trying to get a foothold in their respective industries and remain ahead of the competition.

Availability in your country

Check if the chosen method of payment is offered in the countries where both you and your clients are located.

For example, if the majority of your consumers are mostly located in Asia, you should probably search for a payment provider that is commonly used and accepted in that part of the world.

II. Which payment gateway to use for your business? The big 7 

PayPal

PayPal requires no introduction because it is almost certainly the first brand name that comes to mind when you think of businesses that handle online transactions. 

Since its foundation more than 20 years ago, its number one goal has been to provide the secure transfer of money among the continuously expanding audience of the Internet. 

Paypal is somewhat omnipresent today: officially available for residents of over two hundred countries, with all types of cards accepted. A universal soldier.

Implementing PayPal as a gateway option for payment can boost conversion rates at checkout by as much as 40%.

Pricing

To cover operational expenses, PayPal charges 2.29 percent plus 0.9 US dollars for in-person payments and 2.59 percent plus 0.49 US dollars for online transactions. 

Pros

  • No further costs will be incurred each month or year.
  • PCI-compliant.
  • Virtual Terminal allows electronic payments via phone.

Cons

  • Chargebacks are somewhat higher than average.
  • There is a chance that the account could be terminated at any time with no warning. The process of reactivation takes longer than 180 days, funds will be frozen.

Square

Jim McKelvey and Jack Dorsey founded the platform in 2009 with the intention of enabling users to process payments by using mobile devices rather than expensive POS infrastructure.

Among POS systems, Square currently has a market share that is 27.83%.

Square offers various contactless hardware for enterprises of any size. It works with all of the major credit card brands, in addition to Apple Pay and Google Pay. 

At this moment, it is only distributed in a select few nations, including the United States of America, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and several regions in Europe.

Pricing 

The usual processing cost for contactless payments made with Square is 2.6% plus 10 cents. This price also applies to payments made with chip cards that are swiped or inserted, as well as magstripe. The other payments have a 3.5% + 15 cents fee.

Pros

  • The POS software and the magnetic stripe reader are provided at no charge.
  • Compatible with enterprises of small and medium sizes.
  • Extra support for companies that don't typically generate much revenue.
  • The low-cost chip card reader can be added to any smart device to facilitate electronic payments.
  • There is no per-month fee.
  • Over 130 currencies are supported.

Cons

  • The only accepted payments are that made using the Square application
  • Companies may find the flat charge to be excessively high.
  • PayPal is not supported.
Best payment gateways for ecommerce list 2022

2checkout (Verifone)

2checkout is a payment processing provider assisting up to 20,000 consumers globally.

It has a high level of compatibility with mobile devices and will accept payments from a wide range of credit cards in addition to PayPal and other PSPs. 

Online merchants may review their client health and sales statistics, as well as their marketing and merchandising capabilities, using the commerce dashboard that is provided by 2checkout. This dashboard is fully customizable.

Pricing

2SELL standard plan costs 3.5% plus $0.35 in extra fees for each closed deal.

2SUBSCRIBE fees amount to 4.5% + $0.45 USD.

With 2MONETIZE each transaction is subject to a 6% commission fee plus $0.60.

Pros

  • Appropriate for local and international distribution.
  • No setup expenses.
  • Tier 1 security standards prevent fraud against your online webstore and its shoppers.
  • There are over 120 different shopping cart integrations available, including top players on the market (Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce).
  • It can be used for the marketing of any item.

Cons

  • Online reviews have indicated that the site's help resources are insufficient.
  • 2checkout is considered costly and is not a good choice for businesses that are just starting.

Stripe

Over the last 10 years, Stripe has placed a significant emphasis on technological enhancement and innovations, which has been its primary source of competitive advantage.

The company is easing the process of receiving payments and driving an organization's online activities, making it feasible for any firm, from a fledgling startup to a massive corporation. 

Stripe has more than 100 various payment options. It is used by millions of individuals in over 40 different countries.

E-commerce platform developers agree that it is a top choice among easy-to-use payment interfaces to implement and manage.

Pricing

Stripe charges a 2.9% + 0.3 USD fee for each transaction, with an additional 2.7% + 0.05 USD fee for in-person payments.

Pros

  • This platform provides a comprehensive user interface toolkit with multiple high-end capabilities, customizable checkouts, payment processing automation, broad API options, and more.
  • You will not be redirected to a third-party site during the payment processing phase.
  • There are no setup expenses.
  • There are around 450 modules and extensions.
  • In order to spot fraudulent activity and stop it in its tracks, innovative techniques of artificial intelligence are leveraged.

Cons

  • Unless you're a programmer, you won't get much benefit out of Stripe's developer tools and open application programming interface (API).
  • Compared to counterparts, Stripe offers a much more limited options for brick-and-mortar enterprises. 

Amazon Pay

Amazon Pay is another popular payment option, especially among small and medium-sized enterprises.

Its original goal was to smooth and enhance the purchasing experience of Amazon's shoppers.

Amazon Pay allows customers to buy from within a retailer's website by incorporating widgets into the shopping cart.

It gives you the ability to shop in any of 80 different currencies, and you may choose whatever one is most convenient for you. 

Pricing

Using Amazon Pay implies a 2.2% + $0.30 transaction fee.

Taxes could potentially be implemented if that becomes required.

Pros

  • It's the same payment system that Amazon uses.
  • The structure of the transaction process may be modified.
  • Regular fees are not required.
  • You can utilize one of the many available plugins, many of which are available at no cost.

Cons

  • The availability may vary from country to country.
  • A valid Amazon account is required for processing orders.

Authorize.net

Authorize.net, one of the pioneers in the field of payment processing, offers a straightforward interface that is accessible to merchants of all experience levels. 

Approximately 430 thousand unique merchants have used Authorize.net since its beginning in 1996.

The platform processes somewhere around a billion transactions annually.

It supports over 10 different currencies, and it is robust for ecommerce in the US and most of Europe.

Pricing

In addition to a monthly cost of $25, the platform also charges a fee of 2.9% plus 0.3 USD for each transaction. 

Pros

  • In order to maintain the required level of security compliance, chargebacks and other types of fraud are efficiently eliminated.
  • It is compatible with a wide variety of electronic payment methods, including electronic checks.
  • PayPal-friendly.
  • 24/7 assistance from a real-life person 

Cons

  • The fact that Authorize.net isn't accessible from everywhere is one of its drawbacks.
  • These costs are greater than the market average.
  • A monthly charge of $25 is required.
  • Transactions via phone are currently unavailable.
  • Somewhat processing sluggishness has been a common complaint among the consumers 

WePay

Payment gateway that is very popular among SaaS platforms, crowdfunding sites, and marketplaces is WePay.

With its flexible configuration settings, it is often regarded as the most adequate pick for omnichannel ecommerce.

Due to WePay's feature-rich environment, it's simple to create and deploy unique checkout processes that are highly flexible.

Pricing

Rates for using WePay range from 2.9% plus $0.25 to $0.3, while fees for using ACH payments are 1% plus $0.30.

Pros

  • Crowdsourcing-oriented.
  • Manages very complex requests for payment.
  • The charges are the same regardless of transaction size. 
  • Adds further advantages for WePay's business partners.

Cons

  • All communications with the support staff must be made by emailing.
  • Its API is optimized mostly for use with crowdfunding platforms 
  • Not very suitable for large enterprises, lacking options for merchant accounts.
  • Enterprises that don't normally work with WePay's partners may feel uneasy.

Building custom payment gateway

It's possible that the available payment gateways won't satisfy the needs of your enterprise.

For instance, if you own an online shop and you want to avoid any third-party services. Or perhaps you are a rapidly expanding payment provider who is searching for methods to improve your product and boost growth. In this case, you might want to create a payment gateway specifically tailored to your needs.

Customizing a gateway is time-consuming and may turn costly. However, a bespoke solution also provides a wide range of advantages.

It helps to reduce the expenses associated with using external payment gateways.

By building a bespoke payment gateway, a company becomes a payment provider and can sell service to other merchants and collect fees.

III. Payment integration methods: types and how they work

payment integration methods

It’s 2022 and ecommerce doesn’t slow down – online shoppers still thrive for more. More catalogs, more goods, more options – faster response time, smarter navigation, checkout in a blink of an eye. 

Actually, most of the time they have it.

Online shopping has evolved so much, the ecommerce user experience is so flawless, that customers have become crazy capricious as Siamese cats. 

That terrible meowing (do you hear it?!). Oh, gods of ecommerce, will you ever be satisfied? 

Enter another headache for merchants – how to provide these meowing creatures with proper payment options so that none of them could complain. 

How to integrate payment gateways into my online shop seamlessly? – Merchants all over the world can’t sleep at night. They toss and turn in bed, taking sleeping pills – all in vain.

Let’s break down the options for integrated payment gateways.

How to integrate payment gateways into your website

There are three main types of how payment gateways integration can be established: hosted (off-site payment), non-hosted (API integration), self-hosted (on-site payment). If you’d like to know all around this topic, check the blog Payment Gateway Integration Methods.

Hosted (off-site payment) method

When choosing to host your payment gateway “outside” your online store, your shoppers will be redirected to a separate, externally-hosted payment page.

A customer returns to an online shop as they get confirmation of their purchase.

The purchase is then checked out.

PayPal, Stripe, and Amazon Payments are three well-known providers.

Advantages

  • PCI compliance is not required
  • The responsibility for data secureness is on the payment gateway provider.
  • Hassle-free integration with an online shop
  • The integration procedure is very intuitive and adaptable.
  • There are extensions and add-ons that are easy to implement

Weaknesses

  • Users may feel uneasy about being sent to a third-party site.
  • Relatively few branding opportunities
  • You have no control over the payment processing

Non-hosted / API Integration method

Directly processing payments through API on an online store is made possible by a non-hosted payment gateway. With this kind of connection, retailers have complete control over the look and feel of their shopping cart pages.

Advantages

  • Fully customizable to your requirements.
  • Streamlined check-out procedures
  • Compatible with a wide variety of mobile and tablet devices.

Weaknesses

  • All data protection issues must be addressed by the business.
  • Possible need for technical assistance and upkeep

Self-hosted (on-site payment) method

This strategy is a great option if you want complete command over your clients' financial transactions.

When an online shop chooses to integrate in a self-hosted fashion, all transactions may take place there before being securely sent to the gateway.

The Stripe-powered Shopify Payments is such an example.

Advantages

  • The online shop is in charge of the payment processing.
  • Personalization of themes is possible.
  • Beneficial to the user experience

Weaknesses

  • Meeting PCI standards is mandatory.
  • Since the whole payment process takes place at a single register, there is a centralized point of failure.
  • One cannot rely on technological assistance.

IV. How ecommerce platforms work with payment gateways

Each ecommerce platform addresses the payment-gateway challenge in its own fashion. 

There's a diversity of payment providers, and there's biodiversity. On the contrary to the latest, the first doesn’t seem to have too many threats so far. There are plenty of solutions – each has its own benefits and downsides. 

The situation on the market of ecommerce platforms is pretty much the same: we have new platforms popping up every season. They offer better functionality and more flexibility, trying to disrupt the market.

In terms of payment gateway compatibility and integration, each platform aims to give users as many alternatives as possible right out of the box.

The default options may typically be adequate for starters among small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), but they seldom cover the requirements of large enterprises. That’s when either employing payment gateway integration services, or a helping hand of ecommerce development agencies may be needed.

Let’s take a glance at what ecommerce platforms offer their customers when it comes to payment integration.

Payment Integration for Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC)

SFCC cloud-based platform is a great choice for enterprises that sell globally. It has found apparent success among international fashion labels, many of which have established online sites in multiple countries. Read why leading brands choose Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

In comparison with its direct competitors, Commerce Cloud has advanced multi-site solutions. Using Commerce Cloud, enterprises can quickly and simply create many websites, each tailored to a single region or set of products.

On these country-specific websites, merchants may set different prices, a different currency, and a whole unique set of content.

Various solutions within SFCC such as Storefront Reference, Headless Commerce and others allow the development of multiple storefronts for various products or promotions.

Brands have the option of using the same ‘backend’, while offering various product lines, categories, and branding each visually merchandised in a unique way.

The same level of adaptability may be seen in the implementation of various payment options.

Order Management solution

Within the Salesforce ecosystem, there is an Order Management solution that allows to proceed with cashless transactions including cards, and PayPal, among others.

To set preferences for payment processing provider and the payment gateways, you should navigate to the External Processors module.

Salesforce offers a B2C Commerce LINK cartridge that may manage connections for Order Management by leveraging the B2C Commerce processor. To learn more about this topic, see how to build a LINK Cartridge for Salesforce Commerce Cloud.

Salesforce Commerce Cloud apps and LINK cartridges

However flexible and feature-rich the Commerce Cloud platform may be, you may still experience some drawbacks, some shortage of options out-of-the-box, when it comes to payment gateways and their integrations.

SFCC community has more than 60 apps in the Payment processing category at AppExchange. With about the same amount of cartridges at LINK Marketplace

Payment Integration for Magento

Some believe the platform has passed the peak of its potency, while others continue to be devoted fans. Once we even supposed, what ecommerce platform would James Bond choose, and Magento was in the shortlist.

Magento has a vibe of its own. An open-source ecommerce platform, praised for its unlimited potential for customization. This open-source customize-everything attitude prevails in regards to how Magento allows to work with payment methods as well. 

Paypal Express Checkout and Braintree Payments became part of the core functionality. Not only are they available “out-of-the-box”, seamlessly implemented in the backend interface – in Magento fashion, each payment method has at least half a dozen preferences to configure. So that you can be really specific in what you want from payment options on your web store.

payment integration magento

In case you don’t want any redirects from your web store to PayPal sites, there are options to host the payment gateways “at your side” and let customers pay without leaving elsewhere.   

Payment Integration for Magento

Payment Provider Gateway

For more sufficient integration options, there is a so-called Magento payment provider gateway. You can use the service to offer your customers alternative secure payment methods. And, yes, you better be tech-savvy, and code-friendly, as many beautiful things in Magento are managed not via visual interface but with pure coding. 

Magento payment methods extensions

If you want to use, let’s say, Stripe (or any alternative to PayPal-related methods) on Magento, you will need an extension. There may be plenty of them and of really good quality, but they all (surprise!) cost money. 

There are at least 300 hundred extensions for payment integration at the official Magento marketplace. And, of course, many more – from independent vendors. 

If it still feels scary and you are puzzled about how to integrate a desired payment method to your Magento store, there is always an external Magento payment gateway integration service to lend you a hand.

Bottom line

The choice of payment methods will depend on many factors: from the platform your store is on to the location of your location, as well as many nuances that you will encounter along the way. 

As we have said more than once, the payment process is an extremely important moment, and it is critical that everything is without a hitch, as they say. To do this, the entire customer journey must be clearly defined, analyzed and balanced. 

You can always start with the easiest and most affordable options like PayPal and move on to newer and more interesting alternatives. 

And most importantly – let’s not forget about the buyer: in the end, it’s they who are paying, and you better know what makes them comfortable to pay.

Pavel Ponomarenko

Pavel Ponomarenko

A swimmer diving into payment gateway depths.