Online payments is a hot thing, and you’ll often see payment-related announcements from software developers. Even though I get paid online, I sometimes have a hard time figuring out exactly what to do with all the available payment solutions.
So, when I was informed about Zoho Checkout, a way to make personalized payment pages, I immediately thought, “So what!” Zoho says that with it you can:
“Build a custom, branded payment page in a mater of minutes and start accepting payments right away.”
It also states that you can:
“Build a secure payment page without writing a single line of code. We handle the coding and hosting so you don’t have to.”
What came to my mind was, couldn’t I do this with PayPal, Square, or a variety of other payment processors? For one-off custom purchases, like sending an invoice for a consulting contract, those providers do a more than adequate job.
So before analyzing the features of Zoho Checkout in detail, let’s first take a short detour to learn what a couple of its competitors already offer.
What PayPal & Square Do
I thought that Zoho Checkout could be for purchases that you don’t want to create a unique payment URL for each time you want to get paid. For example, what if I wanted to send a tweet, or a link in an email newsletter, asking people to send me money to sign up for a course or to donate money for a cause? I can’t do that in PayPal.
Or so I thought. I checked in with PayPal, and lo and behold, I can create a Unique URL that I can send to anyone I want.
It’s called PayPal.Me. If you already have a PayPal account, it’s dead easy to set up. To demonstrate, I’ll show you the step-by-step.
First you need to create your custom URL. I decided to use my business name, which is “smallbizdoer.”
After that I uploaded a logo and put in a sentence about what my business does. And voilà — my own custom payment page!
Furthermore, as you can see in the above screenshot, you can also customize the URL to add a specific dollar amount or currency code. If anyone wants to pay me random amounts, my URL really does work 🙂 paypal.me/smallbizdoer.
Okay, if you didn’t want to click on that link, here’s what it looks like if you had.
You get my logo that’s not scaled or positioned correctly, Japanese text (because it’s localized to the country you’re in), and a place where you can enter how much you want to pay. I was surprised and impressed that there was the ability to change the currency. I don’t think it should be a big deal to be able to do so, especially for a company like PayPal, but it was still nice to see the option. My amount defaulted to CAD because my account is based out of Canada.
So using PayPal.me lets you create a single page where someone can enter a custom amount. But what happens if you want multiple pages, or if you want to embed that page into a website of yours? Well, PayPal also allows you to create unlimited payment buttons. You create the button using a form like the one found below, and then you can copy and paste the embed code into your site. Because it then forwards to PayPal (that is, if you’re using the free PayPal option), you don’t need to have an SSL certificate (see below) set up for your website in order to use this.
Let’s try the same thing with Square.
With Square it’s called Square Cash and the URL is cash.me. Same concept as PayPal.Me, so I won’t go into the details again. But needless to say, it’s rather easy to set up and get going. Unlike PayPal, though, it’s only available to those in the U.S.
Square also lets you set up an online store where you can sell specific items and set prices, as well as a register and invoicing option.
Back to Zoho Checkout
Okay, it’s well past time to get back to Zoho Checkout, the topic of this article. The detour was a little longer than I’d anticipated, but that’s how my mind works. I hear a new announcement and automatically think about how useful the product might be — but also whether the technology already exists.
Alright, so we know PayPal and Square can be used to collect payments from individuals or businesses through a variety of methods. Now let’s explore whether Zoho Checkout is bringing anything new to the table.
One thing that is different about Zoho Checkout is that it allows you to choose from multiple payment processors. They currently support Stripe, WePay, and Razorpay. When you first sign up, that’s the first thing you need to set up.
After that, you can create a payment page.
The form is quite simple and easy to use.
Once you enter the details for the payment page, you confirm the preview, which you can see below.
Then you make it live, which requires the click of a button.
Once it’s live, you can see the details of who sent you money. No one has sent me any yet, so it’s still blank for me.
If you want to help me collect payment data, you can always send some money using this link: https://zohosecurepay.com/checkout/jkvutsh-az0n0twv9vs8v/Pay-Me-Please. That’s a joke by the way, please don’t send me money. But I do like how you get some nice stats surrounding the payment page — that’s cool to see.
Besides creating a unique URL, you can also embed the payment page on your website or create a button that redirects to the payment page hosted by Zoho.
Something I was concerned about was how to embed the checkout page on a non-SSL website. SSL is an acronym for Secure Sockets Layer, and it means your credit card information will be secure when sent to a site using the protocol. In the URL, it would show https vs. http. Zoho has this to say:
“Regarding security, the hosted pages created with Zoho Checkout are completely SSL encrypted and we take care of the security aspects. So, you can simply embed the payment page as an iframe on your website and you should be good to go.
Zoho Checkout pages will work fine for Non-SSL pages as well through an iFrame, but it’s always advisable to use HTTPS website for accepting payments.”
So yes, it can be used on a site that doesn’t have SSL, as it’ll still be secure.
If you’re looking to set up something quite simple, Zoho Checkout does have a free plan, which will let you configure 1 payment page and collect up to 50 payments a month.
However, to use it for what it’s intended for, I think you’d need to sign up for the Professional plan, which clocks in at $29 per month. That gives you unlimited payment pages and unlimited payments.
If you’re wondering why you should consider using Zoho Checkout, here are a few nice features that come with it:
- Recurring payments
- Payment notifications
- Automated payment retries
- Custom branding
You can also enable recurring payments with PayPal, but not quite as easily as you can with Zoho Checkout. That’s because PayPal requires you to have a site into which to embed a recurring payment PayPal button, whereas Zoho Checkout can host a payment page for you.
Payment notifications allows you to be informed about both payment successes and failures, among other options, as seen below.
Analytics are nice, in that you can not only see who’s paying you but also get insight into “Lost Opportunities” — which means how many people abandoned the payment once on the page.
If the payment fails, you can choose how you want to retry collecting the payment.
Custom branding is also possible and you’re able to choose from a few different payment page templates.
If you have specific questions about Zoho Checkout, I recommend visiting their FAQ page, which will probably have an answer for you.
When I asked Zoho directly about who Zoho Checkout was for, they had this to say:
“Zoho Checkout would be ideal for small scale businesses like nonprofits, tutors, gyms, churches, small e-commerce sellers etc., who are looking for a simple solution to collect online payments without dealing with technical/coding and security hassles. Once the payment pages are created and set up, they can be easily customized and embedded on the user’s website/store or simply shared via email and social media.”
One reason to go with Zoho Checkout is because Zoho has a suite of small business products and there’s often deep integrations with other products. As such, I was surprised to see that there’s no integration with Zoho Books yet. I say yet, because this is a brand new product and they do have a planned integration in the works.
Would I use the Zoho Checkout? I’m not too sure. I’ve been trying to think of a solid use case for it, something that I can’t get from other services like PayPal, Square, Shopify, Kickstarter, GoFundMe, Patreon, or Indiegogo. Probably the biggest reason I’m unsure about using Zoho Checkout is that when I’m trying to mass collect payments from people who don’t personally know me, I think the level of trust needs to be high. Sites like PayPal or Kickstarter are more likely to be names that people recognize. I don’t know if the average consumer would recognize and trust the Zoho name outside of the small business community.
But then again, if it’s for someone you’re tutoring, a gym, or a church — where people will be meeting face-to-face — I think the level of trust will be enough that the company behind the payment page doesn’t matter.
After reading through my review, I feel I’m a bit hard on the product. It does nothing wrong, but I suppose I really do want to know who would use this over other alternatives. Would you have any use cases for Zoho Checkout? I’d love to hear!