English: Logo of PayPal. Español: Logotipo de ...

English: Logo of PayPal. Español: Logotipo de PayPal. Русский: Логотип системы PayPal. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Yes, Paypal.

You’ll probably offer PayPal as a payment option no matter which e-commerce option or marketplace you decide to go with but did you know that it can be a standalone shopping cart option in its own right?

Most people know about PayPal simple Buy It Now buttons but don’t realize that they offer a more advanced option. While their Website Payments Pro feature works with many of the webstore packages and cart services, their Website Payment Standard lets you add Buy It Now and Shopping Cart functionality to your existing website just by adding a little bit of code. If you have a PayPal account, you already have access to these tools already under Merchant Services.


  • Free… sort of. OK, sure, you’ll be paying PayPal fees on every transaction but you’d be doing that anywhere you accepted them as a method of payment. But just having a Paypal account gives you unlimited access to create as many buy it now buttons or shopping carts as you wish with no limits on the number of products, something you won’t see on most other widgets like this.
  • Simple shopping cart and buttons fit right into your existing site. PayPal buttons are a clean and simple selling option without a lot of frills. Just customize the buttons and add them to your existing site wherever you want.
  • Ideal for digital goods that require no shipping or recurring payments like subscriptions. While complex shipping options get a little hairy, PayPal buttons work great for items with fixed shipping costs or that have a set price. They are one of the easiest, no fuss ways to sell digital goods even if they don’t have any fancy automatic digital delivery.
  • PayPal Buyer and Seller Protection Policies. One of the things we would abandon by going with a standalone webstore is the safety and extra level of protection we had on platforms like eBay, Etsy and Amazon. While you’d get these same protections whenever you use PayPal on another marketplace or platform, you’d likely also offer other payment options that wouldn’t be eligible. Using PayPal buttons ensures that every sale you make is protected from at least one end.
  • Get as fancy or as simple as you want. You can set up shipping profiles and customize your shopping cart with your brand and polices. Or you can just manually add the shipping cost on individual products and use Buy It Now buttons.


  • All your eggs are in the PayPal basket. You won’t have the option to offer any alternative payment options such as money orders or checks and you’ll be paying PayPal fees on every single transaction. If something goes wrong with your PayPal account where it’s frozen or otherwise suspended, you’d lose your ability to sell. And if PayPal makes a policy change that effects you, you’ll have to scramble to find a new option.
  • Limited flexibility in shipping options. There is no option for calculated shipping and shipping profiles are awkward when dealing with multiple items of different weights and types. It’s simplest to just manually put a flat rate shipping cost for each item but then that eliminates combined shipping discounts and international shipping. If you are only selling a few items of a similar type, you should be fine, but a more complicated inventory will test the limitations of this service.
  • Limited features and tools. Sure, PayPal buttons are quick and easy to set up, but it’s too easy to outgrow them and reach the point where they no longer suit your needs. There are a variety of other shopping cart options that take PayPal as a payment option but also include many more features.

Sometimes you find yourself looking for a complex solution without realizing that a simple tool that you’re already using, like PayPal, would fit your needs best. I’ve wasted many hours trying to set up something elaborate only to realize in the end that a PayPal button that takes mere minutes to set up worked better for what I was trying to do. But, on the other end of the spectrum, if you do want something a bit fancier, let’s take a look at one of the more complex shopping cart widgets.