Payment links: What they are and how to use them

Payment links are an easy way to make custom payment pages without a website. Here’s what you need to know about using payment links on every channel.

Payment Links

Use Payment Links to sell online without a website. Create a full payment page in just a few clicks and share the link with your customers—no code required.

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  1. Introduction
  2. What are payment links?
  3. Who uses payment links and why?
  4. Stripe Payment Links
    1. How to create Stripe Payment Links
    2. How to send Stripe Payment Links
    3. Tracking payment links
  5. Benefits of payment links
  6. Payment link fees
  7. Payment link alternatives

If your business sells to customers through online channels, you’re likely familiar with the perpetual project of trying to minimize friction in the shopping experience and pulling every possible lever to increase conversion. No matter what you’re selling, where exactly you sell it, or what audiences you cater to, payment links are an agile tool for your business. If you don’t have a website—or don’t have one that supports ecommerce—but you’re interested in selling your goods, services, or subscriptions to customers online, payment links might be a good fit. Far from a one-size-fits-all ecommerce tool, payment links are more like a “one tool, any size” solution that takes on some of the most nagging challenges of selling to customers online.

According to a Baymard Institute study, more than 69% of online shopping carts are abandoned before a purchase is made. There are various reasons cited for why this happens, ranging from too-high shipping costs to a potential customer balking at the prospect of registering for an account to complete a purchase. But according to the study, a full 17% of online shoppers in the US have abandoned an order due to a checkout process that was “too long/complicated.” This is exactly the kind of conversion funnel drop-off that payment links are well positioned to minimize—but that’s just one of their benefits.

Here’s everything businesses need to know about what payment links are and how to use them for different situations.

What’s in this article?

  • What are payment links?
  • Who uses payment links and why?
  • Stripe Payment Links
    • How to create Stripe Payment Links
    • How to send Stripe Payment Links
    • Tracking payment links
  • Benefits of payment links
  • Payment link fees
  • Payment link alternatives

A payment link is a URL, button, or QR code that takes customers directly to a unique checkout page to complete a purchase. Payment links can be created quickly and easily and can be accessed from a web browser, text message, email, or social media post. Payment links allow businesses to create a payment page and share the link directly with customers. Stripe Payment Links requires no coding and can be shared as many times as desired on any channel, including email, social media, and text messaging.

Payment links can be used by any business that wants to facilitate easy, direct customer purchases online. If that sounds like a remarkably broad definition, that’s because it is: Payment links are used across a wide range of industries to encourage purchasing with practically any segment of digital consumers. The superpower of payment links is their versatility—you can use them for almost any type of online purchase.

Here are a few common situations where using payment links could facilitate customer transactions:

  • You don’t have a website.
    Or at least you don’t have a website that supports ecommerce. Maybe you’re still building your ecommerce site, or maybe you rarely need to process payments online, so you don’t plan to build one at all. Either way, payment links are a simple, reliable solution for businesses that need to process a payment online but don’t have a website that supports payments.

  • You do a lot of SMS marketing.
    Payment links are an ideal tool for text message outreach to customers. If you have a robust SMS marketing list, and that’s a meaningful sales channel for your business, payment links are a no-brainer.

  • You have multiple customer segments.
    If you have distinct audience segments for your business, and you tend to use targeted messaging for each of them, payment links will allow you to create tailored payment pages that are optimized for each bucket of customers.

  • You’re fundraising or collecting donations.
    When selling consumers goods and services, it’s important to have a smooth, efficient checkout process, but when you’re trying to collect charitable donations, this becomes even more important. If you want people to donate, the mechanism must be as effortless as possible, or you risk would-be supporters failing to take action. Payment links are a fast and direct way to let people contribute to fundraising campaigns or donate to a charitable cause with minimal friction and time investment.

  • You need to accept payments in person but don’t have the hardware.
    Let’s say you’re a business that sells artisan peanut butter at farmers’ markets in your region. It’s the end of the day, and one customer, who doesn’t have any cash, shows up wanting to make a purchase—but your business partner already packed up your card reader and left a few minutes ago. Instead of having to turn away the potential customer, you can pull out your phone, quickly generate a payment link for the product, and text it to them. There are any number of reasons why businesses might need to accept a payment without a card reader, and payment links are a versatile tool that can facilitate a payment in many of these situations.

  • Your sales move fast.
    You have timely product drops, anticipated restocks, and your sales move fast—a favorable scenario by anyone’s standards. So how do you make the most of this excitement for your products? One strategy is to have customers sign up for text updates, and then send them payment links when it’s go time. This allows you to capitalize on the urgency and scarcity of these in-demand products by offering customers a way to take action quickly.

Stripe Payment Links can work as a flexible component in a bigger payment setup for businesses that accept payments in multiple channels online, in person, or both—but Payment Links can also work for new businesses that don’t have a website yet, as a way to get started selling their products quickly and simply. Stripe Payment Links supports more than 20 payment methods, including credit and debit cards and digital wallets like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Payment pages are available in over 30 languages and are automatically translated into a customer’s preferred language as set in their browser.

Stripe Payment Links allows users to add custom colors and other branding elements to their payment pages; add store policies and contact information; create QR codes for payment links; and enable promotion codes, cross-sells, and upsells.

Stripe Payment Links is only available with a Stripe account, so if you don’t have one, you’ll need to register first. Once you’re registered with Stripe and logged in, go to your Dashboard. From there, click on Payment Links and follow these steps:

  • Select +Add a new product.
  • Fill out the product details.
  • Click Add product.
  • Click Next.
  • Click Create link.

After you create your new payment link, you’ll automatically see the details page. And that’s it—the link is ready to be shared.

For businesses that want to create payment links at scale, Stripe allows users to generate them using an API.

Sending Stripe Payment Links is just like sending any other link: Copy and paste it anywhere you want to share it. The same link can be reused as many times as you want.

Once you’ve sent payment links out in the world, you’re able to track their performance from your Dashboard.

The simple and stripped-down nature of payment links makes them exceptionally appealing to businesses. If you tell a business they can have access to stand-alone product pages that facilitate completed purchases without any additional clicks to other pages, chances are they’ll see the potential immediately.

Besides the elegant simplicity of payment links, here are a few other notable benefits:

  • Easier payment experience for customers:
    Payment links can be sent via email and text message or shared on social media. Customers can complete a transaction with one click. It really doesn’t get much simpler than that.

  • Better conversion:
    Whatever your abandoned cart rate is, imagine it significantly lowered—that’s an area where payment links can seriously move the needle for your business. The flexibility of payment links can help you reach new audiences and better target your existing audience segments. Across the board, payment links can produce better conversion rates than other checkout methods.

  • Highly customizable:
    Whereas your ecommerce website allows you to have just one payment experience that needs to be relevant for every audience segment, payment links give you an endlessly dynamic mechanism for creating custom payment pages. Whether it’s creating payment links associated with specific campaigns or creating a bespoke experience for a specific group of customers, payment links are a low-commitment way to create as many customized payment moments as you want.

Payment links are already integrated into Stripe’s pricing model, meaning that businesses don’t have to pay any additional fees to create payment links and use them to accept payments. If you use payment links in conjunction with other Stripe solutions, like Billing for recurring payments or Stripe Tax, then you’ll still pay any applicable fees associated with those services, just as you would for transactions completed by other means. But beyond that, using payment links doesn’t cost Stripe users anything extra.

For online transactions, the main alternative to payment links is simply having a website that’s set up to support ecommerce. Once you have a website that allows customers to complete purchases online, and you’ve acquired payment processing support, you can use direct links to product pages, sharing them in much the same way you would a payment link. Of course, these links will lack the functionality of payment links, but they’ll still direct traffic to your website and, hopefully, into a checkout flow.

But the truth is that any alternatives to payment links ultimately end up emphasizing the unique benefits of payment links themselves—nothing else allows customers to directly and easily take action and complete a purchase online without having to navigate through a more extensive checkout process.

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