Your checkout page is one of the most important sales pages on your website. It’s the final step where leads turn into customers and the money lands in your pocket.
When it comes time to set up your checkout page, you have two options. You can use a checkout page that’s hosted on your own website, or a checkout page that’s hosted by your payment processor. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
In this article, we would like to explain and compare on-site checkout vs. hosted checkout to help you decide which method is right for your business.
Hosted checkout is when your checkout page is located on another website. When the customer clicks the “checkout” button, they are redirected to the new domain. Their order information and cart total appears on the new page as well. This is where they submit their payment information.
Hosted checkout pages are provided by many payment processors and payment gateways. Here’s an example of the checkout page Stripe provides.
The redirect to a hosted checkout page is seamless for the customer. In most cases, they think they are still on your website, even though they see the payment processor or payment gateway’s brand name on the check out page.
Once the customer completes the transaction, the hosted checkout page redirects them back to your website. The processor or gateway then generates an email transaction receipt for the customer and an email notification for you.
The Benefits of a Hosted Checkout Page
Why might you choose to use a hosted checkout page?
Each party involved in the transaction increases the risk of data breaches. Ideally, you want as few data transfers as possible. Since the processor takes payments directly, your website isn’t part of the transaction, thus reducing the likelihood of stolen data.
Less Merchant Liability
As a merchant, you take some risk whenever someone gives you their sensitive payment information. With a hosted checkout page, you never actually receive that information, so there’s less risk on your end.
If you’re a new seller, or for whatever reason people don’t know you well, they may not be willing to trust you with their financial information. But if you redirect them to a domain they already trust, they will be more willing to make a purchase.
Multiple Payment Methods
Hosted checkout pages generally offer multiple payment methods to customers because they already have those partnerships and tools in place. You don’t have to do anything to set up alternative payment methods like Apple Pay or Google Pay.
Even though the hosted checkout page sits on your payment processor’s domain, they usually offer some customization options to make the page feel like it’s your website. This helps the customer associate the new page with your site. For example, the Stripe hosted checkout page lets you set a logo and image.
When you use a hosted checkout page, there’s not much to do in order to set it up. You can’t change the layout of the page or the kinds of information the page collects. How you set it up will depend on your processor, but there’s usually little to do other than copying a few API keys.
Drawbacks to Hosted Checkout
Hosted checkout has two drawbacks. For one, some customers may become confused when they are redirected to a new website. They may distrust being taken somewhere else, even if they recognize and trust the branding on the checkout page.
For another, you don’t have any control over the elements on a hosted checkout page. For example, upsell opportunities on the checkout page is often a key way to get your customers to spend more. But you can’t create these opportunities unless your payment facilitator offers that specific feature on the hosted checkout page (most don’t).
On-site checkout is just what it sounds like. It’s when the customer submits their payment information on a page on your own domain. Everything looks just like your website because it’s still your website. The transaction is still managed by the payment processor (and payment gateway, if you have one), but the customer enters their financial information on your site.
In order to process payments on your website, you must have an SSL certificate. This tool encrypts incoming and outgoing data to make payments secure. It’s available from your hosting company and various third-party sellers. It costs less than $100/year.
The Benefits of On-Site Checkout
Why might you choose to use an on-site checkout page?
The major advantage to an on-site checkout page is that there’s no confusion for the customer. The customer never leaves your website. This makes checkout feel like part of the experience.
Since customers never leave your site, it’s possible to match what they ultimately purchase with their account. This kind of data – when used wisely – can teach you a lot about your customers. You can pair this data with your email marketing to automate the kinds of email marketing content each customer sees.
One-click purchasing (Amazon style) is more popular than ever. Once customers attach payment information to their account, you can give them the option to make quick purchases without going through the entire checkout process.
Unlike a hosted checkout page, you can make your own website look however you like. You can customize your checkout page to include any fields or elements that support your business. This is useful if you need to ask unique questions during checkout.
Drawbacks to On-Site Checkout
In most cases, on-site checkout takes a lot more work to set up. If you don’t need a full ecommerce store, it’s unnecessary to install a shopping cart like Woocommerce just to get on-site checkout. The setup for that kind of thing is long and complex.
Additionally, you may have trouble converting sales if customers don’t trust your website. People are leery these days about suspicious websites. They often prefer to spend their money with brands they trust, like Stripe, PayPal, Square, etc.
WP Simple Pay and Checkout Pages
WP Simple Pay is a simple plugin by design, but it comes with a lot of flexibility too. Whenever you create a form, you can choose one of three display options.
- Embedded – This will display all payment form fields on the page itself. All fields can be rearranged and styled as needed.
- Overlay – This will display all payment form fields in an overlay launched by a button on the page. Like the embedded option, all fields can be rearranged and styled as needed.
- Stripe Checkout – This will direct customers off-site to a fully Stripe-hosted payment page before being redirected back to your site to display a payment confirmation.
Want to see these form options in action? Check out our demo site.
Which Should You Use?
Which type of checkout page you use comes down to your website, your customer, and your needs. If you have a new website and simple products, you should probably go with a hosted checkout page. But if you have a large line of products and a strong brand, you may have luck with an on-site checkout page. It’s up to you!