PayPal Sandbox to test Express Checkout

The PayPal Sandbox allows developers to test the integration of their PayPal payment solution before submitting transactions to the live PayPal environment. The Sandbox is a duplicate of the live PayPal site, except that no real money changes hands.

The PayPal sandbox offers following functions:

  • Test Accounts : create preconfigured or  manual buyer and seller accounts. Virtual credit card numbers and bank accounts are generated automatically in the case of preconfigured accounts. In the case of manual account creation, a credit card number generator is needed to obtain valid virtual card numbers.  The expiration date can be freely chosen, the CVV is always 000.
  • Test Email : access emails sent to all the test accounts.
  • API Credentials : manage API credentials for the test accounts. The credentials are the API username and password and a digital signature.
  • Test Tools : Instant Payment Notification (IPN) simulator to initiate transactions to test the  (IPN) feature.
  • Additional resources : documentation, support, forums, developer network.

A Business account is needed to implement the PayPal Express Checkout gateway. The configuration is done in the profile menu. The name of the merchant and his secure merchant account ID and the following profile informations are managed in this section:

Account Information :
* Email, * Street Address, * Password, * Notifications, * Language Preference, * Time Zone, * Manage User, * API Access, * Business Information, * Identification Preference, * Merchant Fees

Financial Information :
# Credit/Debit Cards, # Bank Accounts, # Currency Balances, # Gifts and Discounts, # Recurring payments dashboard, # My preapproved payments

Selling Preferences :

  • Regional Tax : to set up domestic or international sales tax rates (handled in ZenCart for my store)
  • Shipping Calculations : to set up costs for shipping (handled in ZenCart for my store)
  • My Saved Buttons : to create new buttons or to change characteristics of existing buttons (not needed for my store)
  • Payment Receiving Preferences : to set up payment parameters (configuration needed for my store)
  • Instant Payment Notification Preferences : to activate IPN (IPN not handled by my store for Express Checkout)
  • Reputation : to cap seller reputation number (no for my store)
  • Customer Service Message : message displayed to customers before they open a dispute in the Resolution Center (edition needed for my store)
  • Website Payment Preferences : to set up payment preferences (configuration needed for my store)
  • Encrypted Payment Settings : to use certificates and encryption (analysis needed for my store)
  • Custom Payment Pages : to customize payment page (customization needed for my store)
  • Invoice Templates : to use templates for invoices (analysis needed for my store)
  • Language Encoding : to select the language to use on the website (english and utf-8 for my store)

PayPal : Express Checkout or Website Payments Standard ?

PayPal Standard

Customers checking out with PayPal Website Payments Standard (formerly referred to as “PayPal IPN”) will complete the order in the store and once coming to the choice of the payment method, they can select PayPal . There will be a large PayPal button for them to click, they are directed to a page that allows them to log into their PayPal account or to pay by credit card without having to sign up for a PayPal account. After the payment completion, customers are returned to the store.

Website Payments Standard is the fastest way to set up online payment on a website to accept credit cards, debit cards, bank transfers, and PayPal. The integration is easy (HTML based). In the case of ZenCart, if there is any problem in PayPal’s ability to communicate to the store server,  the order will not be passed to the store.

PayPal Express

PayPal Express Checkout gives the customer two options:  They can jump over to the PayPal site to login to their account before completing checkout on the store (which allows them to select their address information there and never have to re-type their address details on the store site, thus the “express” part of the transaction) and then choosing shipping choices and discounts/coupons etc before completing the order and confirm the payment.

The other possibility is to go to the PayPal site to login to their account after making shipping/payment/coupon selections on the store site (and creating an account on the store and typing their address info on the store), much like they do with PayPal Website Payments Standard.

One important benefit is that Express Checkout does not rely entirely on the IPN communications to the store in order to release the order. Instead, it stores the order immediately when payment is completed. It doesn’t have to rely on the PayPal server to talk to the store server in order to save the order. IPN updates are still useful in case of refunds or adjustments to the order and  are reflected in the store’s order history.

The integration of PayPal Express Checkout is more complex and is based on API’s.