Woocommerce + Stripe payments in New Zealand

February 2017 Update – Those of you who have setup WooCommerce sites will know the frustration in establishing credit card payments. Most just use paypal which is easy to setup and works. But it has limitations, like transferring money to your banking account, which takes time. For a better credit card payment system we recommend they use local banking gateway providers eway, payment express and my favorite, Paystation.

But each of these has a degree of complexity and requires paperwork with your bank to open a merchant account, which can quickly overwhelm some as long forms are filled out and references checked. Weeks often pass. Many people just give up and keep using Paypal plus internet banking payments.

Beware the hidden fees

eWay, Payment Express and all the other website-to-bank money transfer [gateway] providers have their own monthly fees too. (Payment express example). N.B. The big banks seldom do this chore, but work with these specialty companies who know about eCommerce websites and can connect them to the local banking system. Banks don’t know this stuff and asking them about it only tends to confuse everyone.

These $50-150/mth fees are fine if you sell thousands online. (Note this excludes any additional fees your own bank or visa/mastercard may want to charge you). But for smaller businesses or startups with under a $1000 dollars in sales per month or perhaps have seasonal sales, then these hidden/monthly fees can be annoying, meaning for most, Paypal is the only viable option, with their popular pay-as-you-go system.

But not everyone likes Paypal

The other concern here in NZ is that not everyone likes using paypal. Certainly they have aggressive, somewhat unfair policies around payment reversals that upsets many sellers. But buyers don’t always like them either. We have a client who sold specialist craft items online using Paypal, but when she added a Paystation gateway for credit cards, in addition to her Paypal and internet banking, sales improved 30%. Seems many New Zealanders didn’t trust or like Paypal as an online payment option. The fact they often ask buyers to signup for their own Paypal account, doesn’t help.

Stripe or Paypal for WooCommerce?

Stripe is very popular and respected in the US, UK and Europe. It’s a bit like Paypal with a simple setup and no setup or monthly fees, just 2-3% taken off the transaction on the way through to your bank account. You don’t need a merchant account with your bank either, just go through a simple verification process, then enter your bank details into Stripe, telling them where the money will be sent. But like paypal, transferring of your money into your local banking account is not automatic or overnight, but with Stripe you can set it to do this automatically each week or every few days. Integration with Xero accounts is also possible. They have loads of other neat toys for us geeks to play with that can simplify workflow as well as help customer support and retention. 

There’s also many other benefits of Stripe, listed below.

Basic Stripe vs Paypal comparison

Service PayPal Stripe
Transaction fees [1] 2.9% + 30¢ 2.9% + 30¢
Charge cards from your website $30 / month [2] Free
Chargeback $20 $15
American Express 3.5% [3] Same flat rate
Micropayments (less than $10) 5% + .05¢ Same flat rate
Refund Fixed fee [4] Free
International cards 1% [5] Free [6]
Authorize card 30¢ [7] Free
Recurring Billing $10 / month Free
Advanced Fraud Protection $10 / month [8] Free [9]
Accept Apple Pay © Not available Free

Stripe – More Advanced with Better Support

Stripe can be setup by amateurs, but they’re really good for us developers too, who want to setup something special or different. Technically, Stripe is superior to Paypal in several respects and their support is better.

Bonus – WooCommerce and Stripe for Subscription / Membership Sites

The other thing we love with Stripe, is they’re ideal for those running WordPress subscription or membership sites. These need the ability to establish recurring, regular monthly or annual payments. If you sell various membership or online training packages using WooCommerce MembershipSenseiLearndash or similar tools, you need a viable, automated or semi-automated payment option. At present, here in NZ, it’s difficult. 

Arranging regular credit card payments for this sort of monthly-paid service through existing NZ credit card providers is a nightmare and expensive. I’m told Payment Express have a solution, but is costly, only suitable for larger companies running steady transaction volumes. Paypal can work, but it’s not perfect or very user-friendly. Stripe though is relatively easy and inexpensive. In some cases a single Stripe account can work with multiple websites which is handy. Portable too, should you need to move websites as Stripe tracks your client list.

Don’t forget website security and performance

Finding a theme and adding a few plugins is just the beginning for selling online. When installing Stripe, there are a few additional site chores needed beyond establishing an account and adding the plugin. You’ll need SSL, update your security, check site speed, any hosting software updates and an SEO/mobile review to ensure Google likes the site. These are really just the standard eCommerce checklist for anyone using WooCommerce or other cart. If you’re uncertain of these items, we can assist.

stripeAnyone can open a Stripe account now. If you need help with all this, just send us a note in the form below and we’ll advise you when they come online or perhaps set you up as a beta user this week.

by Kevin Trye

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