The role of any business, even if it is a business built on one of your passion, is to generate profits. For an online business, this means that you need some way of accepting money coming from your customers. If you are only doing large consulting jobs, you can be just fine with direct bank transfer between your clients and your business bank account. However, this is not an option if you are selling products directly to your clients, for example digital products: you need some sort of third party service, called a payment solution or a payment processing service, to handle that for you. In this article, I will introduce 5 payments solutions that I ran into while I was working on my online businesses. We will see that they offer a wide range of services, that there are some of them that you need to combine with others, and we will go from the most basic to the more advanced in terms of features.
The first online payment service I want to introduce here is Paypal. This is probably the most well-known online payment service in the world. It takes less than 5 minutes to have a Paypal account up and running, and it is available in most of the countries around the world. Opening a Paypal account requires that you send them (online) some documents about either yourself or your business, depending on the type of account your want to open.
As soon as you have your Paypal account up and running, you can start to receive payments just by giving your email address to your clients. You can also integrates some of their famous ‘Buy Now’ button on your website so your clients can send you money using their Paypal account or using their credit cards. However, note that Paypal is not really a credit card processing service: they accept credit cards, but they will ask your clients to create a Paypal account to pay with a credit card. Also, Paypal is just a payment processing service: it’s still completely up to you to deliver the product once you received the payment. On the pricing side, they take a fixed amount of money + a percentage on each sale you make via their service.
The second ‘basic’ payment processing service that I couldn’t avoid in this article is Stripe. Strip is an online service to directly accept credit cards on your website. Compared to Paypal, your clients don’t have to create any account on the Stripe website: they can simply enter their credit card number and personal details, and the money will go to your Stripe account.
As for Paypal, Stripe is simply a payment solution: it is still your job to deliver the product to your clients. They also have a similar pricing model as Paypal: they take a fixed amount of money plus a percentage on each sale you make. The disadvantage of this solutions compared to Paypal is that it is not (yet) available in so many countries. So for example if your business is located outside of the accepted list of countries (which is the case for my business), you won’t be able to open a Stripe account.
With the two examples we saw so far, we still have to deliver the products ourselves. However, there are payment services out there that offer more than just processing the credit card of the client: they also offer to deliver the product to the client directly in case of digital products. The first service of this kind I ever encountered is called eJunkie.
The name of the service actually doesn’t sound that great, but they offer a nice solution that integrates well with Paypal: your clients pay on Paypal as before, but they are then redirected to the eJunkie website to download the digital product that you uploaded there before. On the pricing side, they only take a small fixed fee every month (starting from $5), but you still need to pay the Paypal fees on each sale. Also, their interface is now a bit dated and is not really pleasant to use.
The next solution I want to mention is quite similar to eJunkie on the paper. Called Gumroad, this service also proposes to store your digital products, accept payments, and deliver the product to your clients. However, there are many differences compared to eJunkie which made me choose Gumroad for most of my online businesses that are selling digital products. First, it directly accepts credit cards: your client just need to fill in the credit cards details and his/her email address, and they can receive their digital product directly. Also, Gumroad doesn’t directly use Paypal: all the money goes first to their account (after taking their fee on each sale, similar to what Paypal does), and then twice a month they send the money to your Paypal account, with the transfer fees paid by them.
And I kept the best for last: the interface. Gumroad has a modern and clean interface that makes it really easy to use. It also integrates with the analytics of your website, so you can measure the conversion rate on each of your product. Also, your client doesn’t need to leave your website to buy from you: all is done within a popup-like interface made by Gumroad.
Finally, I wanted to end my list with a service called SendOwl. It is basically similar to Gumroad, but integrates with Paypal and with Stripe to process the payments. Because I couldn’t create a Stripe account, I haven’t tested this service yet, but this is something I plan to do in the future to propose both Paypal and credit card payments on my online businesses. However, the service seems to be quite pricey, as you need to pay a monthly subscription to them + the usual Paypal/Stripe fees.
What to Choose?
Of course, you need to choose your payment solution depending on the business you have. If you have a typical eCommerce website where you are selling physical products that need to be shipped to clients, then just having a Paypal and/or Stripe account is the best solution. You can then couple these accounts with an eCommerce solution like Shopify or Woocommerce. However, if the core of your activity is selling digital products like eBooks, then I really recommend using an all-in-one solution like Gumroad or SendOwl.
Do you already have an online business accepting direct payments from clients? Which solution are you using at the moment? Share below in the comments!