The way WordPress has evolved over the years is really staggering. Originally, the platform was designed as a simple blogging engine. And I do mean simple. Content was organized as posts or pages, and … that was basically it.
Nowadays, however, WordPress allows you to launch any kind of website, and the only limit is your imagination (or skill, or budget).
It wasn’t long before people realized that if they wanted to sell something through a website, instead of hiring web developers and paying them $10,000 or more per project (no joke; I know this because I have some first-hand experience with developers), they could just launch a site on WordPress and then integrate it with various payment solutions for a fraction of the price.
Now, there are a couple of different types of payments you can enable on a WordPress site, so let’s discuss them one by one.
Donations and “by the way” payments
A “by the way” payment happens when a visitor decides to send some money to the website owner for no other reason than to make a donation. There’s no product or service being sold.
Even though this technique hasn’t made anyone rich yet, many people include it on their sites just to cover their hosting and other common costs of running a website.
The easiest way to enable such payments is to integrate your site with PayPal. The plugin I recommend for that is called WP Easy PayPal Payment Accept. It lets you place a PayPal box in the sidebar or inside your posts and pages.
(Apart from donations, you can also use it for product or service sales.)
Standard e-commerce stores
An e-commerce store is simply a website that displays a line of products and enables a shopping cart solution, through which every visitor can pick and purchase the products.
This is probably the most crowded space when it comes to the available WordPress plugins. There are truly some excellent solutions out there, and a lot of them are free.
GetShopped WP e-Commerce. It’s a complete online store platform, which means that it doesn’t require any third party apps or services. It integrates with a number of payment processors like: Google Checkout, PayPal, Payment Express, and more.
The main plugin is free, but there are paid upgrades, in case you ever decide that the default set of features is not enough.
WooCommerce. The plugin is a creation of the guys behind WooThemes. This time, they bring you a complete online store solution, in some ways similar to GetShopped. There’s extensive online payment integration with services like: PayPal, Mijireh, and others.
The plugin is free, but it will certainly work best with a WooThemes’ theme – which are mostly paid.
Direct and recurring payments
The solutions presented above require you to connect with an external payment processor (like PayPal), which will handle all payments for you.
In some cases, it’s better to process payments directly (something we’ve talked about in one of the recent posts). As a merchant, you get more control over your money, don’t have to pay those massive fees, and you can enable automatic recurring payments.
ACH Payments is a solution that lets you do just that. You get to process the payments made by your customers, and you can automate the collection procedure. This comes especially handy if you have any recurring payments, as you no longer have to go back and forth with your customers and remind them to send you a check.
One more important issue with payment processing (from a legal point of view) is that if you’re handling payments yourself, you have to protect and backup the payment data (you can get fined if you don’t). ACH Payments handles this too.
Authorize.net is another solution for direct payments. The company provides tools for fast credit card processing, mobile apps, fraud prevention tools, professional support, and many other services to make your life easier as a merchant.
Auctions and other models
One more individual type of websites dealing with various payments is an auction site. Even though giants like eBay are what comes to mind first when the topic of online auctions get mentioned, many small auction sites exist in various niches and actually make some healthy profits too.
If that’s the site for you then consider WP Auctions. It’s a paid plugin, but it basically turns your WordPress site into a complete online auction platform. There’s a number of bidding engines available, and a load of other features. The plugin integrates with PayPal for payments.
That’s it for my list of payment solutions for your website. Feel free to comment if you have any questions or suggestions for even more ways of handling online payments on WordPress.
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