2 Ways To Sell Using PayPal and WordPress

Sell Products With PayPal And WordPress

There are many, many ways to sell things from your WordPress site, from physical products to digital downloads or access to content. The best solution will depend on your particular circumstance and needs. While WordPress can get quite sophisticated in the ecommerce department, a lot of folks just want to be able to sell a few items quickly and easily using PayPal.

In circumstances like this where the user wants the simplest possible solution and knows they want to use PayPal, a fully featured shopping cart / ecommerce solution such as WooCommerce or Shopp might be overkill. Sometimes simple PayPal buttons will suffice.

So there are 2 primary options I recommend:

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1) Generating buy butons directly from PayPal
2) Using a simple plugin to create a very basic shopping cart

1) Generate Buy Buttons From PayPal

The most basic solution would be to grab your ‘buy’ button code from Paypal and slap it into the HTML tab of your WordPress post/page. This used to be a problem with earlier versions of WordPress where code would mysteriously disappear when you switched back and forth from the HTML tab to the Visual tab. However these days that’s not the case  – the editor is more reliable.

To generate the button code:

  1. Log into PayPal
  2. Click on the “Merchant Services” tab at the top
  3. Click the “Create payment buttons for your website” image
  4. You’ll be using “Option 1 – Create Payment Button”
  5. Follow the steps to to create the button according to the options you need. You can sell products, subscriptions, gift certificates and even accept donations.
  6. After configuring and saving the button you will be presented with some HTML code that you will copy/paste into the HTML/Text tab in WordPress

This method works well you if don’t have a lot of products (because organizing them prettily in your WordPress editor could become challenging) and when you don’t need people to be able to purchase multiple products in one transaction.

2) Use Plugins: Simple PayPal Shopping Cart Plugin + UI for WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart

This combination of plugins is great if you want an actual shopping cart so people can buy multiple items in one transaction.

The Simple Paypal Shopping cart plugin by itself will work but it means that you have to write out the shortcode for each item you want to sell and I think this could be tricky for beginners. Fortunately the companion plugin, UI for WordPress Simple PayPal Shopping Cart, places a button in your WordPress post editor that will generate the shortcode for you, so it’s much more user-friendly.

Configure Simple PayPal Shopping Cart Plugin

The only additional thing you have to do is include a simple shortcode wherever you want the contents of the user’s shopping cart to appear.

Simple PayPal Shopping Cart WordPress Plugin

So you can quite easily create a page with multiple products:

sell multiple items with PayPal and WordPress


The plugin produces a simple shopping cart allowing your customer to buy multiple items:

Simple PayPal Shopping cart WordPress

There’s also a sidebar widget that displays the contents of the user’s shopping cart.

PayPal shopping cart sidebar widget

All in all the plugins make it quite quick and painless,  and suitable for beginners to get going with basic ecommerce.

Another popular PayPal plugin available is the Enhanced PayPal Shortcodes plugin. It does work, but relies heavily on the user being able to understand how to write their shortcodes with the necessary parameters, so I’d only recommend it for more advanced users rather than beginners.

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This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Rosemary S Neilson

    Hi Lucy
    Hope you can help me. Want to sell images online which customer will download after paying. Once downloaded the images can be modified or used in any way the customer wishes so there is no need to supply options as to size, etc. My big question is this: On The Rose Page,
    I am selling photos of various types of roses. There are ten images on that page. When the customer clicks on a desired image, he gets a closeup of it accompanied by a catalog number which I supplied by means of metadata. A corresponding catalog number will appear on the order blank page. What I don’t understand is do I have to have a separate page for each of those ten images? Sorry to be so detailed but I’m new at this and don’t want to give up yet. Thanks for any help you may give.

    1. Lucy

      I would recommend using a plugin like Easy Digital Downloads for this kind of use-case.

  2. Himamsu

    Good one Lucy. I think, you need to write about SSLs, https and Safety seals, as customers would often look for them when in a new site. If you want your own ecommerce solution, then this is the way.

    However, you can depend on established payment gateways for security. You may look at Ecwid Shopping cart. There are basically 2 plans in there – free and paid (Venture, Business etc). The free one restricts to 10 SKUs, while the paid ones are unlimited. The good one about Ecwid is that it doesn't collect any of your customer's details, but leaves them to the big guys- the payment gateways.

  3. RedRocketWebWorks

    Interesting post Lucy. How does WordPress hold up with eCommerce sites that contain a large product inventory, say 1000 products+?

    1. LucyBeer

      I personally haven't tried it, but the common wisdom I hear from other developers is that if you're talking 1000s of products you might need a Magento or similar.

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