Posted September 13, 2016 by & filed under Web Development.

When it comes to taking payments online there are many options to choose from. At Flaunt Digital we’ve tried quite a few and we can say with a lot of confidence that none come close to Stripe. In this article we’re going to summarise why Stripe is our go-to payment platform, explore the use-cases when it would be good for you to utilise, and conduct a brief comparison with the payment provider everyone loves to hate: PayPal.

Why We Love Stripe

First and foremost, Stripe is great for developers. The documentation is still the best and most well put together developer guide we’ve ever used. Bringing real account data into the documentation examples is a stroke of genius (eg. the documentation will give you code snippets which are contextually relevant to the data in your account), and it makes us wonder why this isn’t a standard. Not only does this instantly give developers examples which are totally relevant to what they’re doing, but if you’re lucky then the example provided can simply be lifted across to your application verbatim.

Stripe's developer documentation

Stripe’s developer documentation

Compliance is one area which everyone operating e-commerce websites will get scared by at some point in their journey. This is another area where you can save you a lot of time, hassle and money (who doesn’t love saving those things?). Quite simply – if you integrate Stripe correctly then you have nothing to worry about. This is because all sensitive data completely bypasses your website and goes directly to Stripe, then Stripe simple give you a unique token which relates to the transaction.

What Stripe Is Missing

As much as we love Stripe, nothing is ever perfect. One of the features we always yearn for would be the ability to use coupons for single charges. Whilst Stripe does support coupons, you can only apply these to a customer or a plan, but not a charge. This means that if you want to integrate a traditional e-commerce system (eg. selling individual products) then you cannot integrate Stripe’s coupon system against checkout transactions. In order to achieve this you are recommended to handle the coupons yourself, which is not ideal as it definitely isn’t simple when all things are considered. However we have actually found a creative way to apply coupons to single charges – more on that in another post!

Any tech-savvy smart phone user will remember when iOS used to get apps long before Android (if Android ever got them…). Fast forward to 2016 and this is largely not the case. Unfortunately Stripe does not have an official Android app. At Flaunt Digital we always build mobile apps in write-once-build-anywhere technologies such as Facebook’s React Native, so it’s a shame to see such a forward-thinking company leaving out 67% of the mobile/tablet market (correct as of August 2016).

When Should I Choose Stripe?

If you’re using a pre-made platform such as Shopify, where choosing a payment provider is a click of a button, the only thing you need to consider are the fees, which (at the time of writing) are 1.4% + 20p. This is fairly standard and to be honest there isn’t much to choose from between the leading providers based on fees alone.

If you’re getting your hands a bit dirtier in the integration process then this is where Stripe really shines. As mentioned above, developers are very well looked after. Aside from that, another great feature is the provided dashboard functionality. A lot of the functionality your website may need is already covered right there, saving a lot of development effort. This includes tracking customers & payments, issuing refunds, creating coupons, payment verification details and a lot more.

Stripe's dashboard

Stripe’s dashboard

Where Stripe Is Killing PayPal (…But PayPal Is Catching Up)

PayPal is one of the original and most recognised online payment processing services. Most developers have had to integrate PayPal into a website at one point and if you can find one that enjoyed that experience then you’re in luck! (Who remembers PayPal X?) This is one of the main reasons PayPal has lost ground to Stripe. However, PayPal has recognised this and is becoming much better at catering for developers with their own documentation.

PayPal's developer documentation

PayPal’s developer documentation

Another key reason why Stripe beats out PayPal is because you can integrate Stripe directly into your website, with no branding, and still not have to deal with compliance issues. This is Stripe’s killer feature. At present there is still no way to seamlessly integrate a form directly into your website, send the payment information to PayPal and not have to process any sensitive data on your own server.

However PayPal’s ace-in-the-hole is that a lot of people already have their credit card details stored with them. To capitalise on this they offer a really easy method of checking out which requires minimal development effort (even less so than Stripe integration). The result is a really nice modal overlay which automatically logs you into your PayPal account, which essentially fills in the entire checkout process on your behalf based on your PayPal details. This gives the customer a one-click process which is very simple to execute, potentially having a big positive impact on conversion.

PayPal's checkout modal

PayPal’s checkout modal

What are you thoughts on online payment providers? Do you trust websites with seamless payments more than ones which accept PayPal? If both options are available, do you enter your details or let PayPal handle it?

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