Collecting payments from customers is one of the most important steps of selling products online for a number of reasons, many of which are obvious. There are many payment service providers applicable to e-commerce, and finding one you are content with is a crucial step in establishing, maintaining, and growing your business.
One popular and highly rated online payment service provider is Stripe. This platform handles payments for businesses of all shapes—from online retailers to software businesses—and sizes. Furthermore, it is partners with dozens of big names, such as Shopify, MailChimp, and Freshbooks.
However, just what is Stripe like, how does it work, and what are the benefits of using it? This blog is an in-depth guide for e-commerce merchants who are looking into Stripe as a way to collect and process payments from their customers.
What Is Stripe?
At its core, Stripe is a platform that, in a credit card transaction, safely and efficiently transfers money from a customer’s bank account to a business' account. Stripe handles all aspects related to card payments, including withdrawals, regular and one-time payments, invoices, and data storage.
Stripe can process payments that come from anywhere in the world and can support transactions in more than 135 currencies. In addition, it automatically monitors errors for e-commerce merchants. For example, if a customer has insufficient funds to purchase a product, Stripe will reject the transaction and notify the customer. It also automatically blocks potentially fraudulent transactions.
Stripe offers a panoply of services—not just payment processing—that encompass everything that a business needs to manage the payment side of its operation.
What Can You Do in Stripe?
To start, Stripe allows e-commerce merchants to quickly create a payment page. All they need to do is to decide on the elements they want included in the landing page—everything has already been built and modeled to fit any screen dimensions. Then, merchants can generate and share the link of the page to start receiving payments from customers immediately.
E-commerce merchants can also use Stripe to generate quotes, or estimate pricings, and invoices to send to specific customers.
Furthermore, the invoice emails, receipts, and payment pages created on Stripe are all customizable in content and color. For example, you can manually change the business information, memo, footer, and payment term of an invoice email; you can also choose to change the background color of a payment page.
Next, Stripe Tax is a low to no-code feature in Stripe that can help e-commerce merchants calculate and collect sales tax, VAT, and GST. It can perform real-time tax calculations, offer other tax services, and be integrated with the other functions of Stripe—such as invoicing.
Additionally, a service worth mentioning is Stripe Terminal, which lets merchants in some countries accept in-person payments with Stripe.
Stripe offers pre-built integrations that connect it with hundreds of other software. E-commerce merchants can connect Stripe to the other online business tools that they use, to streamline the management of their business.
Stripe also permits its users to create custom integrations, since it is a very developer-friendly platform. It provides a lot of developer tools—extensive code libraries, keys, and integration tools—so people can customize the experience of using Stripe and running a store in general. However, in order to better leverage this feature, one must possess a certain amount of knowledge in coding and software development.
Stripe users can invite teammates onto their accounts. The account owner can assign varying roles to the invited individuals, granting them various levels of access to the account.
If an e-commerce merchant has more than one business, additional Stripe accounts can be created with the same email. This would help separate:
- The tax ID information of the businesses
- The public information of the businesses
- The documentation and analysis of the payments to the businesses
- The bank accounts that payouts to the businesses are sent to
Registering for Stripe
2. Enter your email, full name, country, and password.
3. Verify your email and create your account. You will now be able to access your Stripe dashboard—feel free to explore its layout and features. However, since your account is not connected to a business yet, there is not much to do.
4. Activate your Stripe account by filling in, step-by-step, important information in regards to your business and yourself. After you are done, review what you wrote and submit the information. It generally takes 24 hours or longer for your business to be approved. You can immediately start accepting live payments afterwards.
Stripe has a straightforward, pay-as-you-go pricing method:
2.9% + $0.30 per successful card transaction
Besides this, there are no set-up, monthly, or hidden fees of any kind.
Pros and Cons Stripe:
Stripe is a well-known, comprehensive, battle-tested platform that most consider reliable and secure. It is also used by many big companies, including Amazon, Shopify, and Slack. As a result, your customers—or those that care about payment providers at least—would feel safe having their payment collected through Stripe.
In addition, Stripe is designed to be scalable and can continue to service your online store seamlessly even as you grow and scale. Lastly, its cloud-based infrastructure helps provide reliability, scalability, and security for its users.
Stripe is excellent for accommodating the international customers of your business. Stripe-created payment pages come in many languages, accepts numerous different credit cards, and can accept payments in 135+ kinds of currencies.
Stripe’s dashboard is straightforward and intuitive. Its services usually come with a short explanatory description as well as a longer document detailing its features. You are then guided through the steps of setting them up.
Quick & Easy Set-up
It only takes a minute to create a Stripe account and a little bit longer to complete the activation form.
According to its official website, Stripe is constantly releasing new features and updates to remain a reliable, high-quality, up-to-date platform.
Simple, Straightforward Pricing Plan; No Hidden Fees
Like many other payment service providers, Stripe suffers from geographical limitations. Although it can accept payments from all over the world, it is only accessible to e-commerce merchants in 46 countries. Some of its newer features are available to even fewer areas.
Developer Skills Required
In order to integrate, add to, and/or customize your Stripe experience, you need to have technical skills or developer resources available. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to utilize the more advanced features of Stripe.
The Pricing Can Add Up
If your online store has a high volume of sales or relatively expensive products, Stripe’s per-transaction fee can add up quickly. It may end up becoming expensive in the long run.
Stripe & Shopify
Shopify is an extremely popular e-commerce platform. Many merchants probably use or plan to use both Stripe and Shopify in the operation of their stores. Just as it happens, Stripe and Shopify are also partners. In fact, Shopify Payments—the main payment gateway in Shopify—is powered by Stripe.
However, transactions processed through Shopify Payments are not shown on one's Stripe dashboard, but instead in one’s Shopify account. Furthermore, in the regions where Shopify Payments is available, Stripe does not exist as a payment provider choice. Although Shopify Payments is not yet accessible to all the countries that can use Shopify, the list is ever-expanding.
In other words, Stripe is purely a payment processor when used in Shopify, and its full range of functions cannot be directly integrated with a Shopify store. Therefore, keeping track of payment fees can be very difficult for Shopify merchants, with the way the Shopify dashboard is constructed. This is where Shypyard can come into play. If you use or plan to use Shopify, leverage Shypyard's data synchronization services to integrate your Shopify store with an accounting software. This will help you to better manage your payments and inventory, which will drastically improve your experience running a business on Shopify. Don't jump to conclusions, read about one of our integration solutions first: https://www.shypyard.io/connect/xero/xero-to-shopify-integration.
Choosing your payment service provider is an important decision. There will never be the perfect or correct choice, you just need to weigh out your options and choose the one most suitable for you (in fact, check out our blog on PayPal to see other possibilities!). And Stripe is certainly an extremely solid solution no matter what your e-commerce business may be.
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