How to Create a Simple Shopping Cart With PayPal

Logo of PayPal.
PayPal/PayPal Press Center/Public Domain

In 2016, PayPal processed $102 billion in mobile transactions alone. Websites ranging from major international retailers to mom-and-pop craft shops use PayPal to process payments. The platform's popularity follows, in part, from the relative ease of effort to create a PayPal-capable shopping cart. 

PayPal makes money by charging a small percentage of the purchase price as a processing fee. They deduct that automatically from the payment, so the merchant need not pay PayPal directly. The only caveat is that if your monthly sales are more than $3,000 you must apply for a merchant account. After your merchant account is approved, the per-transaction rates drop the more you sell.

PayPal Shopping Cart Requirements

To get started with PayPal, you'll need to be prepared with several things:

  • A PayPal account: If you don't have a Paypal account, sign up for one on the company's website. Use an email address you want to be associated with your shopping cart. It's best to use an address on the domain of your website, but it's not required.
  • Something to sell: You'll need to know the item's name, price, and optionally shipping costs and tax rate.
  • A website: This can be any website at all, from a personal page to a specialized domain, as long as you can make changes to individual pages.
  • An HTML editor: You'll need to insert some HTML code into the shopping-cart page on your website.

Although you can set up online payments with a standard PayPal account, only people who already have PayPal accounts can pay you. To allow any consumer to use a credit card, you'll need to sign up for a Premier or Business account.

Simplified Cart Setup

The easiest way to set up a PayPal shopping cart is to copy the HTML following code where you want the "Buy Now" button to appear. Start by visiting PayPal's page that configures your "pay now" button. You'll need to supply some information:

  • Button type to select items, subscriptions, donations, etc.
  • The name and, optionally, ID number of the item. The ID is your own inventory-tracking number, like a UPC, SKU or ISBN code.
  • The price and currency for the item.
  • Customizations to the button that appears on your website
  • Shipping costs per item.
  • The tax rate you're obligated to collect on the sale.
  • The email address of your PayPal account.

If you log in to PayPal before configuring the button, you can optionally set inventory control and advanced customization features on the button. When you've got the button generator configured to your satisfaction, click Create Button to open a new page that offers you two different button options—one for your website and one for an email call-to-action link.

Copy the code in the Website box. Using your HTML editor, paste the code on your shopping cart page then save the page back to your Web server. The button should appear in the updated page and be ready to process transactions for you.