If you are running a WooCommerce store, having a payment gateway comes as a default necessity. Luckily, WooCommerce offers a platform where you can set up multiple payment gateways of your choice so that your customers will be able to find a payment method that suits them best.

But what are your options? How difficult is it to properly configure a new payment gateway? What do you need if you want to install a new one on your WooCommerce store? WordPress developer and Codeable expert Robin Scott provides answers and insights on these topics.

How to enhance WooCommerce payment options

By default, WooCommerce offers you four payment options: check payments, bank transfer, Paypal standard and cash on delivery. These gateways are direct channels that will connect your online store with external merchant accounts. Of course, there are more you could add to enhance your payment options on your store.

One player that has gathered a lot of attention and interest among store owners and developers in recent years is Stripe. This payment gateway accepts all major credit and debit cards, as well as Bitcoin and Apple Pay, and comes as a free official plugin for WooCommerce websites. Robin suggests giving Stripe a try because of its many benefits, even though it might still not be available your country yet or might not integrate with what you're selling:

I highly recommend giving Stripe a try before you try any other gateway. It's got a free official WooCommerce plugin. If there is going to be an issue with Stripe, it may be what country you're in. It doesn't cover all the different countries, and equally, it might be the type of service or product that you're selling. There were some things that Stripe won't work so well with, but you'll see that in their terms and conditions.

If Stripe isn't a viable option for you, you might want to check out Braintree, which was taken over by PayPal about four years ago and is yet another payment option that has a free WooCommerce plugin as well. This option comes second in efficiency after Stripe because of its some limitations within the admin panel, which is not as nice as Stripe, but also there are compelling reasons that might make this gateway not the right fit for your business. As Robin explains:

Braintree is a close second to Stripe for me. In some cases, it's superior to Stripe. It's slightly harder to work with, slightly harder to develop with and slightly harder to set up. The admin panel is not as nice as Stripe and the reports are frankly awful. But Braintree pays you within 48 hours, whereas Stripe holds the funds for seven days

One aspect on which Braintree tops Stripe, though, is their better anti-fraud tools and being verified by Visa and the MasterCard SecureCode system.

Payment gateways always need to be PCI compliant

As we've seen, the payment options offered by WooCommerce are great but might not be satisfactory to some store owners. That is why your eCommerce store can make use of more other external payment gateways as Stripe or Braintree.

The important thing here to know is that in order to integrate any new gateway, you need to ensure that 3 criteria are met:

  1. You have an active merchant account that is properly associated with your WooCommerce.
  2. Your site should also be up-to-date.
  3. Your hosting provides you with a supported encryption type for your store.

Furthermore, in order for you to comfortably enjoy and leverage the advanced features from these payment gateway extensions, you'll need to be sure your checkout page is PCI compliant at least. That is, have an SSL certificate installed. As Robin points out:

You need to have a security certificate in place. At least on your checkout, but I would just say it's better if you implement it on the whole store. If you don't have an SSL certificate, your checkout will show a "not secure" warning to your customers, which is something they don't like to see in a checkout page and ultimately it won't complete successfully. It's 100% necessary.

There are several types of SSL certificates you could choose from, with different features and costs. Yet in most cases, the one offered completely for free by Let's Encrypt will work great. If your store handles lots of transactions, though, Robin recommends the EV certificate also known as the "green bar certificate":

The only certificate I will consider paying for now is an EV certificate. If you're handling a lot of money transactions, I would recommend getting one so that you can count on a higher level of certification. But if you're at an early stage in your business, just use a free Let's Encrypt certificate. That's what we use on our own site: we used to pay for EV certificate, but then we switched to Let's Encrypt and we noticed zero change apart from we weren't paying for it. So I don't believe it makes a great deal of difference if you're an eCommerce store; it does if you're a bank.

Where to find official payment gateways for WooCommerce

If you're looking to add a new payment gateway, your first stop should be the WooCommerce official extensions.
WooCommerce official extensions grouped here are usually updated constantly and better-maintained when compared to third-party extensions available through other websites. On top of that, official WooCommerce extensions come with a great benefit that's unlikely to occur through other channels:

Here's the general rule: WooCommerce official extensions page should be your starting point. Of course, there are some third-party extensions but, generally, the official ones are better and maintained. Should there be an issue with one of them, you can be sure it's going to get fixed.

Setting up the new payment gateway

Once you've picked and installed your new payment gateway, it's time to set it up correctly. Let's see how:

How to set up Stripe payment gateway in WooCommerce

Here you'll find the related documentation.

How to set up Paypal by Braintree payment gateway in WooCommerce

Here you'll find the related documentation

I know, this setup procedure looks easy and, to an extent, it is easy. Yet some gateways require more advanced configurations and the testing phase, which is crucial to see whether the gateway is working correctly, might not be a piece of cake as you thought in the first place.

Even if you have in-house developers working on your store, you might want to consider a WooCommerce specialist to set everything up correctly and test it before going live with it before seeing there's something not working. Something, in other words, you could have been anticipating through a specialist's expertise.

So how does the process of testing your new payment gateway look like? Here's the bare-bones version of it to give you the overall idea:

Basically, once you've added your gateway and settings, you'll need to try and test a transaction using their test option. If that works successfully, try a live site transaction using $0.50 or $1.00. If that successfully goes through and the money hits your account, then it means it's working.

Multiple payment gateways: which one should you have on your WooCommerce store?

PayPal, Stripe, World Pay, and many others. There's really no shortage of options to choose from when it comes to picking your payment gateway. But that's a decision that strictly relates to single business scenarios and specific customers' needs and it's darn difficult to provide an exhaustive answer here (a WooCommerce specialist can answer that for you). So I'd like to focus more on which payment gateways are recommended both from a business perspective and a maintenance/development perspective.

Let's start with one important aspect here: owning several payment gateways in your WooCommerce store is not a bad idea at all. This way you'll be able to serve your disparate plethora of customer's payment preference options. Then, it's about implementing one solution that while it allows you to provide more payment options, it also won't require steep setup costs nor lots of maintenance in the future. As Robin highlights:

I would suggest offering PayPal, which comes pre-loaded with WooCommerce, and credit card payment through Stripe. If you think your customers will use it, offer Apple Pay through the Stripe plugin as well, but that basically doesn't require any additional setup.

Wrapping Up

Each eCommerce store has its own specific features and configurations lined up. Yet PayPal paired with Stripe looks as one of the suggested solution suitable to the vast majority of WooCommerce businesses.

When choosing on a new payment gateway you should always keep in mind and evaluate the opportunity cost it might piles up on your shoulders in the future, as it could potentially lead to more complicated configurations and maintenance work for (an undesired) low return on investment.

This blog post features Robin Scott, an experienced WordPress developer who's also one of the founders of Silicon Dales, an agency focused on WordPress, WooCommerce, and a variety of other services. Robin has specialized in several areas such as Custom Plugins, Gravity Forms, Hosting Transfer, Maintenance, and WooCommerce Extensions, just to name a few.