Integrating Stripe Checkout or Using Snipcart: A Detailed Comparison

As I'm sure you're aware, there are tons of e-commerce solutions and products out there. They come in all shapes and sizes, and answer different needs. Since we're running one of the many products positioned on this wide technical spectrum, we often get lots of questions regarding Snipcart versus other solutions. I think it's time we start addressing these legitimate questions right here, on our blog.

We often present Snipcart in an underwhelming light as a simple HTML/JS shopping cart you can add to any website. Hence, many potential users draw similarities with another lean e-commerce tool and ask us:

"Why shouldn't I just use Stripe Checkout instead of your product?"

There's a rightful hint of confusion behind such a question, and it's our job to make things clearer.

So in this post, I'm going to discuss the differences and similarities between Stripe Checkout and Snipcart as viable options for online merchants.

What is Stripe Checkout?

Stripe Checkout is an embeddable payment form for desktop & mobile developed by the team behind the awesome payment gateway that is Stripe (which we recommend to all our users, all the time). It offers an out-of-the-box, smooth payment experience for standalone charges.

It's made to sell internationally and to scale from a simple integration to a full server integration.

And Snipcart?

Snipcart is a complete shopping cart platform you integrate on top of any website or web application with basic HTML/JavaScript. It offers a flexible, customizable shopping cart, webhooks & APIs, and a dashboard to manage your e-commerce operations. A simple Snipcart integration requires almost 0 development skills. However, customizing and extending it does.

At the end of 2019, the team released Snipcart v3.0, enabling even more template customization flexibility for developers and ditching any tech dependencies (bye-bye jQuery!).

How much do Stripe Checkout & Snipcart cost?

Pricing always plays a big role in an e-commerce solution decision process. So let's examine how much the two products we're comparing actually cost.

Stripe Checkout: 2.9% + 30 cents / transaction

When using Stripe Checkout, the same pricing Stripe charges for its payment gateway service applies. There are no extra fees to use their embeddable payment form.

Snipcart: 2% / transaction + payment gateway fees

When using Snipcart's standard pricing, you pay 2% of your monthly transactions, and payment gateway fees. If you were using Stripe as a gateway for your Snipcart store for instance, you'd end up with a total of 4.9% + 30 cents / transaction.

Note: The 2% can't go under 10$ per month. We also offer custom-tailored monthly pricing for merchants with high-volume & seasonal sales. See our pricing page for details.

Clearly, Stripe Checkout is cheaper than Snipcart for site owners. However, let's see exactly how use cases & features for these two products compare.

Stripe Checkout vs. Snipcart: a use case comparison

The e-commerce scenarios both products handle perfectly

In many basic cases, Snipcart and Stripe Checkout will both do the job.

→ Selling on any website, to any country

Unlike too many turnkey e-commerce solutions, Stripe Checkout and Snipcart give developers the freedom to create authentic online experiences without being locked into a closed ecosystem. With a simple JavaScript injection, they can be integrated into pretty much any sites & web apps. And once developers have a custom website/app they love, they can add a third-party layer of e-commerce on top of it with Checkout or Snipcart.

Important note: Stripe does not charge a credit card automatically. You will need to call their API from your server when a customer is checking out with Stripe Checkout. This means that it can't be hosted on a static website and that you'll need to use PHP, Ruby or any server-side language to complete a transaction.

The two products keep the users on-site through the whole transaction; no redirections to unfriendly, UX-breaking checkout confirmation pages.

Once you've added either one of the products on your site, you can accept online payments from customers all over the world.

→ Processing transactions, creating customer accounts & offering subscriptions

Just like Stripe Checkout, Snipcart processes online CC transactions, allows end-users to create accounts, and merchants to charge recurring payments with subscriptions.

These two last features make it possible to save payment info and limit friction for returning customers. Subscription-based business models also make for more predictable revenues & growth for online merchants.

→ Selling on mobile

Both Snipcart's shopping cart and Stripe Checkout's payment form play well with mobile. And to be fair, Stripe Checkout's payment UX is constantly and automatically improved by a team of killer engineers.

If you've read up to this point and are thinking "this is all I need to do with my e-commerce project," well, you should go with Stripe Checkout. Like I said earlier: it's an awesome product, and it's cheaper than Snipcart.

Taking the e-commerce experience further with Snipcart

Now don't get us wrong; we freaking love Stripe, and their e-commerce products. Stripe Checkout is a neat, seamless & beautiful payment form. And sometimes, a payment form is all people might need. However, we found that, in most cases, merchants need a lot more.

→ Offering and customizing a complete shopping experience

The payment form in itself is just a part of a full shopping cart. For instance, Snipcart's shopping cart offers a rich products overview as it's first checkout step. From there, customers can remove products, change quantities, enter promo codes, and continue shopping on the site.

The next Snipcart checkout steps are: billing/shipping info, shipping options (we'll get back to that soon), payment method, and a detailed order overview before final confirmation. Custom HTML info and custom fields can be added on the way, too. You could, for instance, ask for permission directly in your cart to send newsletters to customers.

Aside from the functional steps of the cart itself, Snipcart offers full visual and cart behavior customization. You can make it stick to your overall UX & branding to provide a truly frictionless shopping experience. Developers can achieve this thanks to easy CSS stylesheets overrides.

But the true beauty of Snipcart appears when developers go further than change colors, fonts & logos to create fully custom e-commerce UX.

While certainly beautiful, Stripe Checkout is a static checkout form. You use it as is. Of course, you could code your own checkout form on top of Stripe's gateway if you had the skills, time, and budget to do so. Snipcart, on the other hand, allows you to create a truly unique shopping experience thanks to its CSS flexibility.

→ Managing a full online store with a complete backoffice

Snipcart offers a hosted merchant dashboard to help manage e-commerce operations.

Orders, customers & discounts

Snipcart's dashboard contains a detailed list of both orders & customers you can search and export at any time. It also gives you access to an advanced discount system to boost sales on your store on specific products or complete orders.

You can also use the dashboard to find abandoned carts and send automated recovery campaigns to boost conversions & sales.

Visual comparison chart

Do you need an optimized payment form, or a complete shopping cart platform?

This comparison all boils down to this very question. What is it you really need for your e-commerce project?

With Stripe Checkout, you get an optimized shortcut to direct, one-off payments on your site. Simple, cheap, beautiful. But you don't get an e-commerce platform. And it's fine: for many projects, Checkout will be a perfect fit. If you want to run an actual online store, however, you'll need more.

With Snipcart, you get a lean, developer-oriented shopping cart platform. You pick your CMS or static site generator, and you customize your cart however you see fit. You get more control on shipping, gateways, customers, orders & discounts thanks to a full backoffice dashboard. The extra you pay is worth it if you need one or two (or more) of our included features.

I sincerely hope this post helped shed light on the positioning of Stripe Checkout vs. Snipcart. If you enjoyed this post and found it valuable, take a second to share it on Twitter. We'd love to know your thoughts and experiences with either Stripe Checkout or our own product in the comments.

About the author

François Lanthier Nadeau
CEO, Snipcart

Francois has worked in SaaS & digital marketing for over 7 years. He’s been published on Indie Hackers, The Startup, freeCodeCamp, Baremetrics, Wishpond, and—among others. He’s spoken at 13+ startup and web development conferences in Canada, U.S.A., and Europe. He's been a vocal bootstrapping and Jamstack proponent for years.

Follow him on Twitter.

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