Accepting online payments (PayPal? Click&Buy?)

I’m volunteering temporarily for a London-based political party. We’re interested in selling our publications (books, DVDs, CDs, pamphlets, magazine subscriptions) online and accepting online payments. Can someone let me know what options we have for online payment processing solutions? Here are our basic requirements:
[ul]
[li]I’m technically knowledgeable, but almost nobody else here is. So whatever system we set up needs to be fairly self-sufficient after the initial installation.[/li][li]Our web host runs Apache 2.0 on GNU/Linux. We have shell access, so I can install software on the server if necessary.[/li][li]Most transactions will come from within the UK, and thus be in GBP. However, we do get a significant minority of orders from Europe, Canada, and the United States, so ability to accept EUR, CAD, and USD is a requirement.[/li][li]We anticipate fairly small transactions (£1 to £50) in the volume of perhaps £100 to £500 per month, at least at first.[/li][li]We’d like to make it as easy as possible for customers to pay in the method of their choice—Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Maestro, Switch, Interac, wire transfer, etc.[/li][li]We don’t have our own credit card merchant account and would rather not obtain one if it’s going to be a lot of fuss.[/li][li]We don’t do online auctions so stuff like eBay integration isn’t an issue.[/li][li]Needless to say, the lower the transaction fees, the better.[/li][/ul]
The only third-party payment processing packages I’ve come across are PayPal and Click&Buy.

I’ve never used PayPal before. According to their website, they charge 3.4% plus £0.20 per transaction, support all kinds of payment methods, and they seem to be very popular. However, I’ve heard a lot of bad things about them, and I have no idea how easy it is to integrate PayPal payment into a website.

I’ve used Click&Buy to pay for some things as a customer (such as my news.individual.net account) and it was pretty simple. However, their website for merchants is absolutely atrocious (poor design, darn near impossible to find information), and they refuse to say how much it costs to open an account. (Their FAQ is cagey about this issue; it basically says “call us and we’ll talk about the cost”.)

Can anyone comment on using PayPal or Click&Buy as a merchant? Are there any other services that anyone here has experience with?

My company uses Authorize.net as a merchant. I like it, and the fees are decent, but we do higher volume than you probably will be doing (like $3k-5k/mo). It’s a credit card merchant account and there’s a lot of paperwork involved.

With something like Auth.net you have to build a Web site shopping cart, or purchase a Web site shopping card app to run on your Web server and “connect” it to Auth.net. Not a huge deal but:

  • Building your own shopping cart is not half as easy as it sounds (security, sessions, and administration are the biggest pains)
  • Using someone else’s cart not only costs $ but it also can be hard to seamlessly integrate into an existing site.

And AFAIK there are international processing fees everywhere you go. Auth.net charges us extra for international cards.

That being said, I have some clients that use PayPal as their “merchant” and so far it seems easy as pie. In it’s most basic form, you add items to your PayPal catalog and it gives you HTML code to paste into your existing site’s HTML that produces buttons. You know, “Click here to buy with PayPal.” Usually a new window opens up and PayPal starts a “shopping cart” for the user, so they can keep adding items. Then they check out and bob’s yer uncle.

I’m not sure about the latest ways of programming your PayPal store, but I’m sure there’s a lot of options. I have done some deeper integration of PayPal into my clients’ sites (more than just “click here” buttons) and the more Web programming knowledge you have the more seamless you can make it look.

If PayPal does everything you want (eChecks, international credit card processing, domestic card processing, shipping calc, etc) and you want something easy, well-known, and pre-packaged, I would definitely go for it. From what I recall, fees are actually fairly low compared to other places. I’m sure it’s because of their volume.

Granted…PayPal does give your site a BIT of a lower-class feel but you’re an organization not a huge company - personally, it would not turn me off as a buyer. If you make the presentation look sharp and make sure everything works right you should have no problems.

Check out Cardinal Commerce:

www.cardinalcommerce.com

They have a wide variety of payment processing and shopping cart soutions, and are tailored for small online merchants.