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Pros and Cons of Using a PayPal Button

When is it better to use a PayPal button versus a full e-commerce shopping cart experience?

Most small businesses we work with are service based businesses who don’t sell products online. However, that doesn’t mean that some businesses don’t have products to sell on their websites. For those who have a very small inventory, sometimes a very simple Buy Now PayPal button is the perfect solution.

Besides a Buy Now Button, PayPal offers a number of other simple buttons which are relatively straightforward to create.

We’ve put together this list of pros and cons to help you determine when it is preferable to use a PayPal button versus a more robust shopping cart experience.

Buy Now Button Pros:

  • PayPal doesn’t have any ongoing fees or long term contracts which makes it convenient
  • “Buy Now” buttons can be encoded to allow your customers to purchase an item with a fixed amount
  • Buyers may purchase multiples of the same items
  • PayPal will track inventory of these items if that is required
  • PayPal has a simple refund process should you need to do that
  • PayPal provides for the ability to have thank you pages and cancellation pages to which site visitors are routed after the successful purchase or at the cancellation of a purchase
  • PayPal provides functionality to customize your purchase screen with your logo and colors

Buy Now Button Cons:

  • “Buy Now” or a PayPal button doesn’t have shopping cart functionality, meaning customers cannot put an item in a virtual shopping basket and continue shopping
  • Every time a new item must be added, you will either need to code a new PayPal button or call your web developer add a button. While not highly complex, it involves a few steps and it may be confusing to those who don’t use it regularly.
  • Consumers unfamiliar with the use of a PayPal button, may not understand that they may pay with credit cards, and are not required to have a PayPal account. You may need to explain the process or have a separate set of FAQs to help them. However, many companies now use these buttons so more are familiar with them.

An e-commerce solution such as a hosted shopping cart or WooCommerce provides a full e-commerce experience. However, it takes a good bit more time to set up and configure. Hosting shopping cart services generally incur a fee. WooCommerce, an Open Source cart owned by Automattic is designed to work well with WordPress self-hosted websites.  It does require some experience or dedication to learning how the software works and how your store should be set up. If you don’t expect to sell enough to make it cost efficient to set-up a full e-commerce solution and have only a few products, the PayPal buttons work well, but without the full shopping cart system.

For many businesses PayPal buttons are the perfect functionality allowing customers to purchase items. But it is not a substitute for a full e-commerce shopping cart experience.

2 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Using a PayPal Button

  1. Hi. Thanks for this useful info. I want to add a button which will only be used a few times for a small amount of money. I currently have a basic PayPal account. I don’t want to pay for PayPal as it will not be worth it. Will I be able to get the money if I only have the free PayPal account? I can not find the answer to this query anywhere and would really appreciate a reply if you have time. Many thanks.

    1. Janet, In order to access payments received via a PayPal Buy Now button, PayPal notes that an account must be “a Premier or Business account.” You can read the details via the link on the PayPal Buy Now Button page on their website.

      Every method of payment acceptance incurs an expense and that’s part of doing business. There are no free lunches.

      Some banks such as Wells Fargo are using tools such as Zelle to allow people to send money between themselves, however, when it comes to e-commerce on a website, using a trusted, secure method such as PayPal or other payment acceptance gateway is critical.

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