How to Put an Order Form or Buy Now Button on Your Website Using PayPal

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How to Put an Order Form or Buy Now Button on Your Website Using PayPal

by Christopher Heng,

If you are planning to set up an online shop, ie, a website to sell a product or a service, where the payment is a simple one-time charge, this article describes how you can add a "Buy Now" button that leads to a secure order form so that your visitors can purchase your product/service. They can use a credit or debit card for the purchase, as well as any other payment method that PayPal supports.

Preliminary Things to Note

  1. This article deals with how you can accomplish the task using a payment gateway called PayPal. You are of course free to use other payment gateways if you wish, and a list of some of them can be found in the How to Accept Credit Cards on Your Website article. However, since each payment processing company has its own procedure for doing things, you will not be able to apply the steps listed in this article if you use a different one.

    In other words: this article only deals with how you can put the order form/button on your site using PayPal.

  2. Since you are selling things (or services), you will probably need to have PayPal's Business or Premier account. Either of these allows you to accept unlimited credit card payments, among other things.

    Note that the article assumes that you have already signed up for an account at PayPal. The actual signing up is free, though PayPal earns by taking a small cut from each payment made through its services. Please read their documentation for more information on that. The amount charged per transaction varies from country to country.

For those who are not sure what a payment gateway is, please see the introductory article How to Accept Credit Cards on Your Website. If you haven't already got a website, you may also want to refer to the How to Start / Create Your Own Website: The Beginner's A-Z Guide.

Step by Step Guide to Creating an Order Button (Buy Now Button)

Note that the description of the web pages on the PayPal site given below were correct at the time I checked them out. Since I don't control their website in any way (or control anything at all where their company is concerned, for that matter), it is possible that the text may have changed by the time you read this. There may also be localization differences. For example, PayPal may show slightly different things to different countries.

If you find that the words are different from what I describe here, get the gist of what I'm referring to and look for the equivalent on PayPal's site. Over time, they are bound to change the words they use, update the site design, or even move the links around a bit. But the basic idea should still be the same. (And if you have a little time, please drop me a note to let me know of the changes so that I can update this article.)

In addition, if you find that PayPal's documentation contradicts mine, you should probably trust PayPal's documentation over mine. As I said, I neither work for PayPal nor control how they do things. I'm just a webmaster like you. This article is meant to help you get started and answer a question that I get every now and then from visitors to

  1. Log into your PayPal account.

  2. Click "Merchant Services". At the time I write this, it is one of the links near the top of the window that looks like a blue tab.

  3. On the page that appears, look for the link that says "Buy Now Buttons". At the time this was written, it was in the section labelled "PayPal Website Payments Standard".

  4. A page entitled "Create a PayPal payment button" will appear. This page allows you to customize your payment button and the associated order form.

  5. The drop down box labelled "Accept payments for" lets you choose between "Products", "Services" or "Subscriptions and recurring billing". This tutorial only deals with payments for products or services. If you're providing a service that provides, say, monthly billing, you will have to read the PayPal documentation yourself for more information. For now, select either "Products" or "Services", depending on what you're selling.

  6. In answer to the question, "Do you want your customers to buy multiple products before they check out", select the radio button labelled 'No; create a "Buy Now" button'. This option is suitable for situations where you have a single product or service. When your customers click the button, they will be brought immediately to the page where they can enter their credit card information or log into their PayPal account to pay.

  7. Enter the "Item name" in the field provided. This name will be displayed in your order form for your customers, so you should not put something cryptic that will mystify them and make them wonder whether they have arrived at the wrong form.

    Ignore the "Item ID" unless you know what you're doing.

  8. Set the price in the "Price" field. The "Currency" field defaults to your local currency, but you can change it if your prices are in a different one. Just click the drop down box and select the appropriate currency if that's what you want.

  9. If you need to charge for shipping and taxes, enter the required amounts in the fields given. PayPal does not appear to provide automatic calculation of such things based on your location relative to that of your buyer.

  10. In the section "Merchant ID for purchase transactions", leave the default of "Secure merchant account ID" unless you know what you're doing.

  11. I will not be dealing with the customizations that you can do in PayPal's "Step 2: Track inventory, profit and loss (optional)". However, if you're interested, you can click that header to expand the section to see if there's anything you want to customize. Be sure to read the PayPal's documentation for more information about those fields. If you don't understand what you're reading there, just leave everything set at the defaults.

  12. Click the line that says "Step 3: Customise advanced features (optional)". This expands a section that lets you customize the checkout pages. Like "Step 2", you can actually leave everything set at the defaults, and your order form will work just fine, albeit using the PayPal default checkout pages.

    For those who want to fine-tune their order form, read on:

    • If you want to allow your customers to order more than 1 unit of the product you're selling, set the answer to "Do you want to let your customer change order quantities" to "Yes". Otherwise, leave it at "No."

    • If you want your customers to be able to add "special instructions" to their order, leave the "Yes" radio button for that item selected, otherwise click "No". Since you're selling something, you may want to provide that special instructions field for your customers in case they have specific requirements that you did not anticipate in your planning.

    • If you do not want your customer's postal address, click the "No" radio button for that field, otherwise leave it set to "Yes".

    • The next two fields, "Take customer to a specific page (URL) after checkout cancellation" and "Take customer to a specific page (URL) after successful checkout" are for people who want to customize the landing pages for a successful order or a cancellation. You will of course have to create those web pages on your site yourself, and put the web address for those pages here. If you don't know how to do that, leave these fields alone.

  13. When you're through customising ("customizing" in US English) your "Buy Now" button and your Order Form, click the "Create Button" button.

  14. A new page giving you the generated HTML code appears. You will need to copy the code given in the field to your web page. To copy the code, click somewhere in the box containing the generated code. The text in the box should automatically be selected. Click your right mouse button in that field and select "Copy" from the menu that appears.

  15. You will need to paste that code into the correct spot on your web page using a method appropriate to your web editor. The exact way to do this differs from editor to editor. Please go to the appropriate tutorial for your editor for the details on how to paste the code. (For example, if you use Expression Web, click the link to go to the Expression Web tutorial. And so on.)

    Note that these are general guides on how to insert HTML code from any source (not just PayPal).

What if I Change My Mind About the Settings I Made for the Button or Order Form?

PayPal saves the button, along with its settings, in your account. If you want to modify the settings after you create the button, for example, if you want to change the product price or the landing page web address, go to the "Merchant Services" page again and click the "Buy Now Buttons" link as before. This time, instead of creating a new button, look for the link that says "Go to My saved buttons". At the time I write this, it's located below the first field, "Accept payments for".

When you do this, a new page, called "My Saved Buttons", will appear. Click the "Action" button for the saved button you want to modify. A drop down menu will appear, allowing you to "Edit" the button to change the settings, "Delete" the button, "View code" if you need the HTML code for the button again, and so on. To change the settings, click the "Edit button" item. You'll be brought to the page that you saw earlier, where you'll be allowed to change some settings.

(Not all settings appear to be changeable. For example, the "Accept payments for" setting is not. If you really need to change that, you'll probably have to create a new button.)


That's it. Your site now has a "Buy Now" button that leads to an order form. With this, you have an online shop that can now start accepting credit card payments (along with the other payment methods provided by PayPal).

Copyright © 2009-2018 by Christopher Heng. All rights reserved.
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