In previous articles, we have highlighted some popular free and open source e-commerce solutions, and we have explained the concept of payment gateways. Today, we will look at some of the ways in which e-commerce software packages integrate with payment processors.
Most payment processors provide users with access to their APIs, which allow developers to create add-ons or plugins for their e-commerce software that pave the way for varying degrees of interoperability. Such functions may include the passing of product information, prices, customer names and shipping addresses, and even secure credit card data. Ideally, the payment processor will interpret that information as-needed, secure the payment from the customer, and then hand the customer off to the e-commerce software back on the seller’s website.
If you are developing your own e-commerce web application, you may be tasked with integrating one or even several payment processor APIs into your system. Because most of the payment processors attempt to protect their proprietary code, the APIs may not all be as flexible and forthcoming as you would like. Nevertheless, APIs are almost always freely available, since payment processors have a financial interest in making sure developers can easily integrate support for their services.
The good news is that if you are purchasing or using a free e-commerce store, shopping cart, or other app, it will usually support multiple payment processors. If you already have a payment processor, this may even become one of the deciding factors for you when choosing your e-commerce software.