13.4. PayPal Merchant Tools
Unless your Web site is wildly popular, ads and other affiliate programs will only net you spare change. If you have all-consuming dreams of Web riches, you need to actually sell something.
You don't need to go far to run into self-made Internet commerce kingpins. A surprisingly large number of people have made their living with creative products. Examples include t-shirts with political catchphrases, empty bottles of wine with Titanic labels, and collectable toys from a relative's basement . Your path to a thriving e-business might involve little more than buying tin spoons from Honest Ed's and decorating them with macram .
But no matter how good your goods are, you need a way to sell vast quantities easily and conveniently. Very few people will go through the hassle of mailing you a personal check. However, if they can make an impulse purchase with a credit card, your odds of making a sale improve significantly.
But accepting credit cards isn't the easiest thing in the world. There are two ways an e-business can accept credit cards:
Open a merchant account with a bank . This is the traditional way to accept credit cards. Requirements for this step vary from country to country, but you may need a business plan and an accountant , and some up-front capital.
Use a third-party service . A number of companies accept credit card payments on your behalf in exchange for a flat fee or a percentage of the sale. In this chapter, you'll learn how to use one of the bestPayPal.
Unless you have a large business, the second option is always better. The reason has to do with the additional risks that accompany Web-based sales.
First of all, the Internet is an open place. Even if you have a merchant account, you need a secure way to accept credit card information from your customers. That means the credit card number needs to be encrypted (scrambled using a secret key) so that Internet eavesdroppers can't get it. Most Web masters don't have a secure server sitting in their basement.
Another problem is that when you conduct a sale over the Web, you don't have any way to collect a signature from the e-shopper. This makes you vulnerable to chargebacks (see the following sidebar).
Note: PayPal is a staggeringly large Internet company that offers payment solution in 45 countries , and has 71 million account members worldwide. PayPal was established in 1998 and purchased by eBay in 2002. .
| FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION |
What's a chargeback ?
A chargeback occurs when a buyer asks their credit card company to remove a charge from their account. The buyer may claim that the seller didn't live up to their end of the agreement, or claim that they never made the purchase in the first place. A chargeback can occur weeks or months after the item is purchased.
From the buyer's point of view, a chargeback is relatively easy. The buyer simply phones the credit card company and reverses the transaction. The money you made is deducted from your account, even though you've already shipped the product. If you want to dispute the buyer's complaint, you're in the unenviable position of trying to convince a monolithic credit card company to take your side. Many small businesses don't dispute chargebacks at all, because the process is too difficult, expensive, and unsuccessful .
However, when you use a third-party service, the odds tilt in your favor. If the buyer asks for a chargeback, the chargeback is made against the third-party company that accepted the payment (like PayPal), not you. And even though PayPal isn't as large as the average multinational bank, it's still a major customer of most credit card companies, which means it has significant clout to argue against a chargeback.
The end result is that buyers are less likely to charge back items to PayPal. And even if they do, PayPal gives you the chance to dispute the chargeback. PayPal even lets you contact the buyer to see if there's a simple misunderstanding (for example, to check whether you sent the item to the wrong address). And if you're really paranoid , you can use PayPal's Seller Protection Policy, which insures you for up to $5,000 of loss, if you take a few additional steps (like giving PayPal your bank information and retaining proof of delivery). For more information about how PayPal handles chargebacks, check out www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=xpt/seller/ChargebackRisk-outside. To learn about PayPal's seller protection, refer to www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=p/gen/ protections -outside.
13.4.1. Singing Up with PayPal
Once you sign up with PayPal, you'll have the ability to accept payments from customers across the globe. Here's how you do it:
Head to the PayPal Web site (www.paypal.com). Click the Sign Up Now button on the home page .
This sends you to the Sign Up Web page
Choose the type of account you want to create: Personal, Premier , or Business .
A personal account is ideal if you want to use PayPal to buy items on eBay. With a personal account, you can buy items using your credit card or an account funded from a bank account. You can also accept payments from other people, without having to pay any fees. However, there's a significant catchcredit card payments aren't supported, which means your customers need to get money into their account first (either from a transaction with another PayPal account holder or from a linked bank account) before they can do business with you.
A premier account is the best way to run a small business. You get the ability to send money (great if you crave a rare Beanie Baby on eBay) and accept any type of payment that PayPal supports, including credit cards and bank account debit. You'll also get to use PayPal's e-commerce tools. However, You'll be charged a fee on every payment you receive, which varies by volume but ranges from 1.9 percent to 2.9 percent of the total value (with a base fee of 30 cents ). That means on a $25 sale, you pay PayPal about $1.
A business account is almost identical to a premier account, except it supports multiple logins. The business account is the best choice if you have a large business with employees who need to use PayPal to help manage your site.
Choose your country and click Continue .
The next page collects the typical account details.
Enter your name , postal address, and email address. Next, supply a password .
Make it goodyou don't want a malicious hacker guessing your password and using your PayPal account to go on an electronic buying binge.
Tip: As a general rule of thumb, guard your PayPal account information the same way you guard your bank PIN. If you're really paranoid, don't use your PayPal account to buy items on other Web sites, and don't supply your credit card information.
PayPal sends you an email confirmation message immediately. Once you click the link in this message, your account is active and you can start creating PayPal buttons and shopping carts to collect payments.
13.4.2. Accepting Payments
PayPal makes it ridiculously easy to make e-commerce Web pages. In this section you'll see how to add a Buy Now button to any Web page on your site.
Head to www.paypal.com, and sign in .
Once you've signed in, you have access to several tabs crammed with goodies (see Figure 13-20).
Use the My Account tab to update your account information, see what transactions you've made, and request withdrawals.
Use the Send Money tab to email someone some cash (which you'll need to supply from a real-world bank account or a credit card), and the Request Money tab to send an email asking for the same.
Use the Merchant Tools tab to build buttons that you can add to your Web pages to sell items.
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Figure 13-19. PayPal gives you a range of options for collecting money via email and by placing buttons on your Web pages.
Use the Auction Tools tab to use PayPal to sell items on eBay. (eBay is still one of the most popular places to set up an e-business.)
Click the Merchant Tools tab .
Scroll down the page, and you'll see a variety of tools for collecting money, as explained in Figure 13-19.
Click the link Buy Now Buttons .
PayPal shows a page where you can configure your button's appearance and set the price of your product (Figure 13-21).
Give your item a name and ( optionally ) a product code that you use to keep track of it. Then supply the price, currency, and a default country .
Don't worry about locking out international visitors when you set your currency. Credit card companies are happy to charge Canadian customers in U.S. dollars, U.S. customers in euros, and European customers in rupees. Just choose the currency that your buyers expect to see.
The country setting isn't terribly important. If you think most of your customers are from the U.S., then choose United States. However, enterprising surfers from Luxembourg can still change this setting when they fill out their payment forms.
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Figure 13-20. The My Account tab lets you see what transactions you've made so far, and if there's any money currently in your account.
Choose to use the standard button picture or design a custom button .
The standard Buy Now button is nice, but a little plain. If you've created a nicer button (see Chapter 15 for tips) and uploaded it to your site, just supply the URL for that button image here. Either way, you can always change the HTML that PayPal generates later on if you want to use a different button picture.
Choose whether you want to use encryption for your price information .
This bit's slightly confusing. PayPal always uses bulletproof encryption when it gets payment details (like a credit card number) from a customer. Anything less would be scandalously irresponsible. However, this option lets you choose whether or not to encrypt the price information that you've entered, so it can't be changed.
If you choose not to encrypt the price information, a nefarious user could create a copy of your Web page, change the price from $500 to $0.50, and then make a payment. This deception isn't the end of the worldunless you're selling hundreds of different products, you're likely to notice the incorrect payment and refuse to ship the item.
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Figure 13-21. The basics of a Buy Now button.
If you use encryption, buyers can't attempt this kind of fraud. However, it also prevents you from using option fields , a PayPal feature that lets customers choose various options about the product they're buying.
Click the Add More Options button .
The Add More Options page gives you a heap of extra possibilities. You can add a flat surcharge for shipping and a percentage for taxes. You can also let customers fill in comments with their payments, and supply a URL on your Web site where purchasers should be redirected after they complete a payment or cancel it. But two of the niftiest features are option fields (described in Figure 13-22), and the ability to customize your "buyer's experience."
Essentially, the buyer experience section lets you tell PayPal where to send shoppers when they complete a transaction or cancel it. Rather than using the generic PayPal pages, you can send your shoppers to a specific URL on your Web site with a detailed description about your shipping policies and provide them with additional support contact information.
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Figure 13-22. The basics of a Buy Now button.
Note: Option fields are only available if you've chosen not to use encryption (see the description for step 7).
Click Create Button Now .
You'll see a text box with the HTML for your customized Buy Now button. All you need to do now is copy it out of the text box and paste it into a Web page.
When you create a Buy Now button, PayPal puts everything inside a <form> tag (explained on Section 188.8.131.52 in Chapter 12). If you haven't used encryption, you might be able to figure out what's going on inside your form.
Here's the example that was generated over the last few steps for a pair of handmade origami socks:
<form action="https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr" method="post"> <input type="hidden" name="cmd" value="_xclick"> <input type="hidden" name="business" value="firstname.lastname@example.org"> <input type="hidden" name="item_name" value="Handmade Origami Socks"> <input type="hidden" name="item_number" value="HOS-001"> <input type="hidden" name="amount" value="26.95"> <input type="hidden" name="no_note" value="1"> <input type="hidden" name="currency_code" value="USD"> <table><tr><td> <input type="hidden" name="on0" value="Color">Color</td><td> <select name="os0"> <option value="Yellow">Yellow <option value="Green">Green <option value="Tomato">Tomato <option value="Chartreuse">Chartreuse </select> </td></tr></table> <input type="image" src="https://www.paypal.com/en_US/i/btn/x-click-but23. gif" border="0" name="submit" alt="Make payments with PayPal"> </form>
Remember, when you submit a form, all the information in any <input> fields gets sent along with it. PayPal puts the product name, number, and price in the input fields, along with your business name. If you don't use encryption, this is the part that a troublemaker could tamper with and attempt to pay you less than you or your product are worth.
If you've added any option fields, you'll see <select> and <option> tags that define the list boxes you need (Section 184.108.40.206 in Chapter 12). Finally, the form ends with a submit button that sends the form to PayPal. You can change the src attribute of this button to point to a different image file.
Tip: As long as you don't tamper with the <input> fields, and you keep everything inside the <form> tags, you can tweak the HTML PayPal has created for you. For example, you can add other tags in the form, or apply style sheet formatting. Or, you might want to remove the invisible table (represented by the <table>, <tr>, and <td> tags) that's used to organize your button and your option fields to get a different layout.
What happens when the shopper submits this form? The action attribute in the very first line of the above code tells the story. It has the URL https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr. This URL tells you the information is sent to PayPal over a secure channel (that's why it starts with "https" instead of "http").
Lastly, it's just as important to realize what PayPal hasn't generatednamely, it doesn't provide any information about the item you're selling. You'll need to put the item name, picture, description, and price into your Web page (probably before the Buy Now button). Here's an example:
<html> <head></head> <body> <h1>Handmade Origami Socks</h1> <p><img border="0" src="origami.jpg" class="float"> You've waited and they're finally here. Order your own pair of origami socks for only .95 and get them in time for the holidays. What better way to show your loved ones how poor your gift giving judgement really is?</p> <form action="https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr" method="post"> </form> </body> </html>
Figure 13-23 shows the result. In this example, the standard PayPal ordering page is shown, but you can customize this page with your own logo. You'll learn how in the next section.
13.4.3. Building a Shopping Cart
The Buy Now button gives you a great way to make a quick sale. But if your dreams are about a Web e-commerce empire, you'll need to create a store where visitors can collect several items, and pay for them all at once. This setup requires a shopping cart, and it's a staple on e-commerce Web sites. With PayPal, you don't need to program your own shopping cartinstead, you can use a pre-built shopping cart service that integrates smoothly into your Web site.
Creating a shopping cart is remarkably similar to creating a Buy Now button (so if you haven't tried that, you might want to play around with it before you go any further). The basic idea is that you create a separate Add To Cart button for each item you're selling on your site. When you create this Add To Cart button, you get many of the same options you saw when you created the Buy Now buttonfor example, you set the price, product code, shipping charges, and so on. The difference is that when a visitor clicks the Add To Cart button, they aren't sent straight to a checkout page. Instead, a shopping cart page pops up in a new window. Visitors can keep shopping, and then complete the purchase when they've collected everything they want.
To demonstrate how this works, the following example takes the page shown in Figure 13-24 as a starting point. This example also demonstrates a great use of style-based layout. Check out the downloadable samplesavailable from the "Missing CD" page at www.missingmanuals.comto try it out for yourself.
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Figure 13-23. Top: A page with a Buy Now button.
Bottom: Clicking the Buy Now button starts a secure checkout process using PayPal. The visitor can pay for the item by credit card, and you both get an email confirming the transaction. Then it's up to you to fill your end of the deal.
220.127.116.11. Creating a custom page style
Before you create your shopping cart, there's an extra step you can take to really personalize the payment pages. If you're happy with the PayPal standards, feel free to skip straight to the next section. But if you'd rather have your company logo appear in the shopping cart pages, keep reading.
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Figure 13-24. Right now, this BrainFood page offers a great list of product descriptions, but doesn't give the reader any way to make an impulse purchase. You can change that by adding PayPal's shopping cart buttons.
If you're not already there, head to www.paypal.com, and sign in .
Select the My Account tab, and then the Profile sub-tab .
You see a page with a slew of information about your preferences, grouped into three main categories: Account Information (who you are and where you live), Financial Information (your bank, credit card, and payment history information), and Selling Information (extra options you can use with the merchant tools). In this case, you're interested in the Selling Information section.
Scroll down to find the Custom Payment Page link, and click it .
This takes you to the Custom Payment Page Styles page, where you can set up page styles or edit existing ones.
Click Add to create a new page style .
You start off with only a single page stylethe PayPal standard, which sports a basic PayPal logo.
Supply the information for your page style .
Page Style Name is a descriptive title to help you remember which style is which.
Header Image URL is a URL that points to a picture on your Web site. This picture is the logo you want to show at the top left of the PayPal shopping cart page. The image you use can be a maximum size of 750 pixels wide by 90 pixels high.
Note: Because PayPal's shopping cart page is a secure page, when you use a custom logo, the shopper may get a message informing them that there are some insecure items on the page (namely, your picture). If you want to avoid this message, talk to your Web hosting company about putting your picture on a secure (https) server.
Header Background Color, Header Border Color, and Background Color let you set the page colors with six-digit HTML color codes (see Section 5.2.7 in Chapter 6). This part is optionalleave it out if you're happy with the standard white.
Click Save to store the page style .
You can also click Preview to take a sneak peek at what the PayPal payment page will look like.
18.104.22.168. Generating the shopping cart buttons
Now you're ready to build the buttons that add your items to an e-shopper's cart. Here's how to do it:
If you're not already there, head to www.paypal.com, and sign in .
Click Merchant Tools and then click the PayPal Shopping Cart link .
PayPal shows a page where you can configure the Add To Cart button for a single item.
Give your item a name and (optionally) a product code that you use to keep track of it. Then supply the price, currency, and default country .
These settings are exactly the same as for a Buy Now button (see Figure 13-25). Choose to use the standard button picture (by clicking the Add To Cart radio button) or create a custom button (by clicking "Choose a different button") .
Click the Add More Options button .
Now you can set all the options you learned about above, including shipping and sales tax (Section 13.4.2). You also get two new shopping-cartonly features.
Your shopping cart solution wouldn't be complete without a button that lets the shipper see what's in the cart (and then head to the virtual checkout counter). PayPal let's you use the standard View Cart button, or supply a URL that points to a button picture of your own design.
In the Customize Your Payment Pages section, you can also choose a custom page style. This lets you change the look of the PayPal shopping cart page. If you followed the instructions on Section 13.4.3 to create a custom page style, select it now.
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Figure 13-25. Here's the information you need to supply to create an Add To Cart button that selects the Mystical Brownies.
Click Create Button Now .
You'll see a text box with the HTML for your customized Add To Cart and View Cart buttons. But remember, the Add To Cart code you generated is good for one button only. If you have more than one item (as in the BrainFood example), you need to generate multiple buttons. Click Create Another Button and head back to step 3.
Tip: If you aren't using encryption, there's a shortcut that lets you create additional buttons. Just copy the block of HTML from your first button and find the input tags inside. Look for the product name, product code, and price, and edit these details by hand. This is also a great way to make a price change without regenerating the whole button.
Once you've created your buttons, you simply need to add them all to your page. Figure 13-26 shows the final result.
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Figure 13-26. Top: Here's the revised BrainFood page, with shopping cart buttons.
Bottom: After clicking a few Add To Cart buttons, here's the shopping cart page your visitors will see (in a separate window). All they need to do is click Secure Checkout to make the purchase.
13.4.4. Withdrawing Your Money
Every payment you get through PayPal is safely stashed in your PayPal account (which is kind of like a virtual bank account). You can see the balance at any time after you log in and click the My Account tab.
If you've earned a small amount of money, you may be happy just using it to buy other stuff on Web sites like eBay and www.buy.com. But if you're raking in significant dough, you'll want to withdraw some of that money into the real world. Pay-Pal gives you a few options.
You can transfer money to a bank account . In order to do this, you'll need to provide PayPal with your bank account information. Depending on the country where you live, PayPal waives its fee as long as your withdrawal meets a certain minimum (like $150). However, your bank may apply a standard electronic transaction fee.
You can request a check . PayPal will mail you the amount to your postal address. Once again, you may need to meet a certain minimum to get your money without a fee.
To get started with either of these approaches, log in, select My Account Withdraw, and follow the instructions there.