If I wanted to take payments on my website, what options would be available to me?
These options have been recommended already, but here is my reasoning my I recommend each to my customer:
These are the 3 options I've worked with. I'm sure there are others.
Although Darryl has answered your question well I would like to go a bit more in depth here.
I've developed a few sites now that use a variety of payment systems. Depending on how many payments you process and how you want to take payments there are a number of options available to you. You may also note that many large sites offer a number of payment solutions (e.g. credit cards, PayPal and Google Checkout) to their customers in order to offer them the greatest number of options to pay.
There are two basic things you require in order to take payments online:
Companies like RBS Worldpay and PayPal offer the two as a package but other companies like Sage Pay offer them separately which can be quite deceiving in figuring out the costs. My advice would be to draw up a spreadsheet between the different companies you finally settle on and work out which will be the most cost effective for you.
Here are a few questions that you may want to ask yourself before deciding on the payment options you wish to provide. I will list them below in bold with further information relating to each below.
How many transactions do I expect to take?
Depending on the number of payments you will take monthly you may prefer to go down different routes. This will mainly be determined by the costs of the payment providers.
If you have a low number of transactions then you may not wish to pay a monthly fee which some payment providers charge. So in this circumstance you would probably go for a PayPal or Google Checkout account. PayPal offer a service they call "Website Payments Standard" where a percentage (1.4-3.4%) of the sale is taken plus 20p and no monthly fee. This would be an attractive solution if, as I said before, you have a low number of transactions. However if you wish to take payments on your site then this will not work for you.
Do you want your customers to remain on your site to make a payment?
There are two options here:
The complexity of the two are obvious in that option 2 requires a lot more work. Furthermore you will run into the "PCI compliance" area regarding option 2. For example, when using RBS Worldpay, they require your web site to have passed a PCI compliance scan before they enable the XML Direct payment method for your account.
PCI scanning can be a costly process. For example, the cheapest and most user friendly I've come across has been McAfee Secure PCI scanning at $319 pa for on demand scanning. UK companies seem to really overcharge on this so I shy away from them.
Certain shopping carts actually have built in functionality that enable the XML direct payment method for certain payment providers which may make it easy for you to integrate this solution into your site. This will probably influence your choice in deciding which payment provider to go with.
Finally here is a price comparison between RBS Worldpay and PayPal for accounts that offer the XML Direct payment method:
Check out Braintree Payment Solutions. They allow you to integrate the payment form into your own website but handle all of the sensitive data directly so you don't have to deal with PCI-DSS compliance.
Paypal shopping carts is something we have looked into using. A thing you need to look into is the volume you expect and how much control you want to have of the process.
See this article on how to easily integrate Paypal and Google Checkout into your site. It has a .NET focus, but even if you ignore the .NET stuff, all the form stuff still applies.