Shopping Cart vs Payment Gateway: Which Do You Need?

Payment gateways and shopping carts both play a part in ecommerce transactions. Explore the difference between these key components of your online store.

Shopping carts and payment gateways aren't the same thing in the ecommerce world, although these terms are often used interchangeably. 

You'll need both a payment gateway and a shopping cart system to successfully sell products and services online, so it's important to understand how these elements work together during ecommerce transactions. This guide provides a thorough explanation to help you select the right set-up for your online business.


What Is a Shopping Cart?

Shopping cart software gives your customers the virtual experience of picking out purchases as they walk through a brick-and-mortar store. Each time they click Add to Cart, the shopping cart saves their selection and recalculates the total cost with taxes and shipping. 

Customers can also enter coupon codes for discounts when they head to checkout with their online carts.

What Is a Payment Gateway?

The payment gateway serves the same function as a physical point-of-sale terminal. Instead of stepping up to a cash register and swiping their cards, your customers enter their information in the payment gateway, where it's transmitted to the payment processing provider for authorization. 

The processor sends the transaction data to the customer's bank, commonly called the issuing bank. This institution provides approval or decline depending on the customer's available balance. The payment processor returns the decision to the payment gateway, where you'll receive notice of the transaction status.

What Are the Main Differences Between a Shopping Cart and a Payment Gateway?

  • Shopping cart software handles the part of the transaction when customers select items and see their total charges. After they enter the details for their preferred payment method, the payment gateway takes over to transmit the necessary information.
  • You set up the shopping cart when you create your ecommerce website. To use a payment gateway, you need to sign up with a merchant service provider that offers this service.
  • Customers can see and interact with the virtual shopping cart. Conversely, the payment gateway operates outside the customer-facing part of the transaction.

What's the Best Way for an Ecommerce Business to Accept Payments? puts the ability to accept payments in the hands of your small business. Since we provide a full payment infrastructure, you won't need to set up a separate payment gateway to handle customer transactions. Simply connect your account to your site's online shopping cart for secure, professional sales.

You won't need to worry about data privacy since maintains the highest level of industry standard security. We also charge a transparent flat rate so you won't be surprised by unexpected fees.

Click here to create your account now!

The Bottom Line 

Virtual shopping carts let customers add items to their cart when they purchase from your online store. They also add up the total, including taxes, fees and discounts. Once they click check out, the payment gateway takes over to transmit the person's payment details to the bank for approval. Although these elements work closely together, they aren't the same service.

When you're ready to expand or launch your ecommerce endeavor, can provide the full-service solution you need for seamless, secure transactions. Our easy onboarding process allows you to begin accepting credit cards and other methods of payment shortly after signup, so you'll be ready to begin making money with online sales.

Don’t wait till the last minute! Click here to sign up with now.


How can an ecommerce business accept multiple payment methods? lets you accept multiple methods of payment from your customers, including credit cards, debit cards, and digital wallets. 

It's easy to set up our service, customize your checkout page, and begin accepting secure online payments with our fast, flexible onboarding process. We also offer an affordable, transparent rate structure with a flat fee for each transaction.

Click here to get started now!

Is a shopping cart a payment gateway?

A shopping cart is not the same as a payment gateway. Shopping carts let customers add their purchases and see the total amount with tax and shipping. Then, they enter their credit card details in the payment gateway, which sends the payment information to the customer's bank for approval or denial. The gateway then transmits this info back to your online shop.

What's the difference between a payment gateway and a payment method?

Payment method is the customer's chosen way to pay for a purchase. They enter the info for their selected method in the payment gateway, which sends these details to the customer's bank. The payment gateway also communicates approval or denial of the purchase back to your merchant account so you can complete the sale or request an alternate payment method.

What's the difference between a payment gateway and a merchant account?

Your merchant account allows you to accept credit cards and other forms of customer payment. The payment gateway is the part of your ecommerce site that communicates with your merchant account as well as the customer's bank.

Meet the author
Andrea Miller
Andrea Miller has been a writer and editor for more than two decades. Specializing in business and finance, she has written for some of the major websites in the financial sector. Outside of work, she spends most of her time with her family and enjoys hiking, yoga, and reading.
The Easy Way to Accept Payments Online provides you with a full payment infrastructure that’s simple to set up and easy to use. You can accept a wide variety of payment methods, including credit and debit cards.

Get started now

Ready to boost revenue for your business

Sign Up