The Complete Guide to PayPal

Thanks to PayPal, becoming an internet shop owner couldn’t be easier. Millions of potential customers at hand, and it takes just one simple click to get paid. In this article we’ll guide you through the world’s most popular online payment service and show you how it all works.

Whether you’re just getting started in ecommerce web design or simply want to sell your collection of unwanted books on your website, lengthy and frustrating coding sessions could be ahead of you. Alternatively, you could just go with PayPal (PayPal), which enables you to accept payments online with just one click. There are now approximately 150 million PayPal account holders worldwide, making PayPal the largest online payment service around. It offers a fast, easy and, most importantly, safe way to send and receive money online and handles transactions of more that £250 billion every year.

All you need to do to get started is set up a PayPal account. There are three types to choose from:

  • Personal: mainly for buyers. There is no charge for receiving money, but no credit card payments are possible.
  • Premier: mainly for sellers without a business. There is a small charge for receiving payments and you can sign up for this account during the Personal account sign-up process.
  • Business: includes all the features of the Premier account. This type of account enables you to do business under a corporate or group name, which enables multiple logins.

Sending money is always free with PayPal, but if you own a Premier or Business account you’ll be charged a small fee for accepting payments (3.4% + £0.20). For more information about PayPal’s fees, go to www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/paypal-fees. Withdrawing funds from your PayPal account to your bank account is free.

Is PayPal Secure?

PayPal uses SSL technology to encrypt payment information and keep your details secure. But there are also several other ways to keep yourself from falling victim to fraud. First, you should become a verified member. This will increase protection for both you and your buyers and will make things much easier when PayPal needs to check up on your bank details for legal purposes. It also means that you’ll be able to lift the sending and withdrawal limits that are imposed on non-verified members – if you’re verified you can send and receive higher amounts of money. To verify your account, log in and click on ‘My Account’, and under the ‘Overview’ tab click ‘Get Verified’ and choose if you want to verify your account by adding a bank account, adding a debit or credit card or by supplying information about your business. If you add a bank account you will also be able to withdraw funds to your bank account in just a couple of hours rather than the one or two weeks it takes to do it by cheque.

Once you’ve verified your PayPal account, you’ll be eligible for protection of up to £3,250 per year. PayPal’s Seller Protection Policy applies when you send an item to a verified address of a buyer with a PayPal account. It protects you against unauthorised payments and against claims of non-receipt of items. For the complete list of guidelines that you need to follow to qualify for the Seller Protection Policy, visit www.paypal.com/uk/webapps/mpp/seller-protection. For instance, you must despatch the items within seven days of receipt of payment and retain reasonable proof of postage. Note that at present, you’re not qualified for the Seller Protection Policy if you send any items to a country other than the UK, the US or Canada.

If you don’t qualify for the Seller Protection Policy, you can still try to protect yourself from chargebacks by shipping to confirmed addresses only. This reduces the risk of dealing with buyers using stolen credit cards. However, at the moment it’s only possible to confirm UK, US and Canadian addresses, which means that it currently might be quite risky to send items to addresses not in these countries.

PayPal’s website enables you to easily customise the service to your needs. In your profile you can edit your Payment Receiving Preferences and manage the types of payments you receive. And if you’ve got a fairly high turnover and don’t want to start tearing your hair out trying to manage your finances, you can monitor your transactions, view and download transaction histories, generate sales reports and receive monthly account statements in your history (log in to your account and go to ‘My Account’ -> ‘History’). There are also various ways to remind and notify your buyers of an outstanding payment. For example, you can request credit card payments via email.The PayPal payment wizard for Outlook and Outlook Express enables you to add PayPal payment buttons to your emails. When your customers clicks the PayPal button, they will immediately be taken to the PayPal website to complete the transaction. Alternatively, you can send detailed invoices via email.

Payment Updates

As as the money has been paid into your PayPal account, you’ll receive an email notifying you that you have received a payment. At present, it’s possible to send and receive money in the following currencies: US Dollars, Canadian Dollars, Euros, Pounds Sterling or Yen. Note that the exchange rate, which will be determined by PayPal, includes a 2.5% fee. You can set up an Instant Payment Notification (IPN) service, which will send you a notification whenever you receive a payment and to customise your website’s response to payments in real-time. IPN provides status and additional data on pending, cancelled or failed transactions.

Build Your Own Online Shop

Adding ecommerce functionality to your website is simple. The PayPal website is packed with so much information and easy-to-follow, step-by-step guides that getting started shouldn’t be a problem at all. In fact, you can accept payments from your site in less than an hour. Click the ‘Merchant Tools’ tab to find different website payment types, all very easy to implement (Buy Now buttons, Add to Cart buttons, Donations, Subscriptions and Recurring Payments). If you create a shopping basket for your site, your customers can browse your entire selection of products, add multiple items to the cart and view a list of their purchases before actually buying any items. You can just use the ready-made PayPal buttons (no cgi scripting needed) or make your own. PayPal enables you to design a personal look for every button to perfectly match your web design. And if you simply want to manage eBay listings, PayPal offers a variety of tools that are equally easy to implement (PayPal logo insertion, Winning Buyer Notification and Post-Sale Manager, all found under the ‘Auction Tools’ tab).

The whole PayPal system is extremely customisable. If you want to build your own websites (or get the leading web design company in Sussex to do it) rather than just adding a single PayPal button to a page or email, PayPal offers a huge number of resources to get you started. The PayPal Developer Network (developer.paypal.com) contains a huge amount of information, documentation, set-up wizards, user guides, tools and resources to help you create shopping cart buttons, shopping basket pages or even complete online stores.

There’s also a selection of free Software Developer Kits. For example, you can download a PayPal-enabled web store front containing all the code you need. But what’s really useful is the PayPal API sandbox test environment. You can test accounts to try out PayPal features and functionality without having to send real money. The Developer Network also features an active community and a blog where you can find out more about PayPal solutions and designs.

About Michael Bell One

Michael Bell One is a web design, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) and digital marketing agency based in Lewes, East Sussex, and with offices in Sussex, Surrey, London and Kent.

To talk to us about your web design, SEO or Branding project, contact Jake Judd or David Park on 01273 478822 or simply send us an email instead.