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Moving to Stripe: Fixing the Biggest Mistake I’ve Made to Date
A month ago, we switched our payments on CloudContacts from Paypal and Google Checkout to the new payments service from Stripe. I’ve been meaning to post about why we switched and since Greg Taylor posted today about his switch to Stripe, I figured this was a good time to start my string of posts about my online commerce payments research I’ve completed over the past few months. There is a good discussion of Greg’s post on Hacker News. Greg mainly discusses moving from Paypal to either WePay and Stripe and ultimately selecting the latter.
When I launched CloudContacts two years ago, I made the decision to use Paypal and Google Checkout as the payment services we would offer because after speaking with friends and colleagues, it seemed like people trust these services and as a new service, customers might be more likely to pay with one of these services. Initially we used a shopping cart with E-Junkie.
Shortly thereafter we created a custom checkout which had the following flow:
- CC Order Form > off site > PP/GC > back to site >CC Thank You
It seemed like everything was going well — every once in a while we would get an inquiry from a potential customer that they wanted to pay with a credit card and we explained that you could use a credit card on both Paypal and Google Checkout.
And then I started to do some analysis and realized the biggest mistake I’ve made with CloudContacts to-date. What I found was that a number of customers filled in our order form, went off to Paypal or Google Checkout, but never completed the order. Many of our business customers aren’t web savvy and the fact that they had to input their info twice if they needed to create a pp/gc account was just a headache. I know we all think that everyone has a Paypal and Google account but this really isn’t the truth and even if someone has a Google account, it doesn’t mean they have set it up with Payments (now Wallet) access and information.
I emailed a few of them and asked if they would explain why they didn’t complete the purchase and the overwhelming response was that it was just too much work and that they didn’t have Paypal nor Google accounts.
Call it a coincidence but since we switched to our new payments platform a month ago, sales have gone up. We also removed a few of the fields on the order form to make it as absolutely simple as possible. The new checkout process has the following super-easy, “normal checkout” flow:
- CC Order Form > confirm order > thank you
I started to research online payment companies (more posts about my research coming soon) for switching so we could create a simple, easy checkout process that was completely integrated into CloudContacts. The end result for us was that it came down to:
- Paypal Payments Pro
Comparing online payment providers is like shopping for a mattress – every store has a different name for the same bed so you can never truly compare one to another. With online payment providers, each one charges different fees and so comparing is nearly impossible. Stripe charges, “2.9% + 30 cents per successful charge” – the only downside is that they hold the funds for 7 days – this isn’t an issue once you get past the hump but if you make a huge sale today, you will be waiting a week to see the cash.
I was ready to begin the merchant process with Braintree when I heard about Stripe – literally within a few days I would have moved forward with Braintree. I was very impressed with Braintree – they answered all of my questions (I am a former accountant after all) and had very strong documentation. Ultimately I selected Stripe for CloudContacts because we didn’t need to go through the merchant creation and approval process.
Stripe offers pre-made scripts to get started on most of today’s development languages (PHP, Python, Ruby, etc.) and they have a Campfire chat for questions — I’ve learned a lot by just lurking.
I have no harsh words for Paypal as I haven’t had any issues with them in all my years using the service. We still offer the ability to pay with Paypal through an eJunkie shopping cart although in the month since we switched, not one sale has come through this option. I did completely remove Google Checkout as an option going forward.
The big takeaway here for other web startups is to make sure you create a seamless, easy-to-use checkout process from day one. Get the customer to the order form, get their credit card info as quickly as possible and get them to the big green Order button. Then move on to the next sale.