How to Sandbox test the Paypal Express Checkout payment gateway for osCommerce

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The PayPal Express Checkout payment gateway for osCommerce provides a great user experience for your buyers – reducing buyer abandonment. You can and should test the user experience using the PayPal Sandbox to see how easy it is for one of your customers to buy from your store. Testing is free.

You’ll need a PayPal Business or Premiere account to use PayPal Express Checkout (which is also free) – but there are very reasonable transaction fees.

From PayPal: Express Checkout eliminates one of the major causes of checkout abandonment by giving buyers all the transaction details at once, including order details, shipping options, insurance choices, and tax totals. Studies show that adding the Express Checkout button to your website can increase your sales up to 18 percent.

Here is the process I followed to test PayPal Express Checkout via the PayPal Sandbox:

  • get a PayPal Business or Premier account – prereqs are here: https://cms.paypal.com/us/cgi-bin/?cmd=_render-content&content_ID=developer/e_howto_api_ECGettingStarted
  • however, you don’t need the Business/Premier account to test – you can test with the PayPal Sandbox
  • get a paypal developer account to be able to test the user checkout experience – https://developer.paypal.com
  • in PayPal Sandbox (https://developer.paypal.com) create 3 ‘test accounts’ – Buyer, Seller, Website Payments Pro.
  • ensure that your web host allows Outgoing Connections for these IP Addresses:
    66.211.168.194
    66.211.168.126
    66.211.169.66
    173.0.82.83
    The PayPal API will make outgoing secure requests. My server didn’t allow the outgoing connections initially. If your connections are blocked, you will receive a ‘Failure’ when you ‘test credentials’ or you will see a refresh of the checkout page when you click the PayPal button (without an obvious error).
  • set up osCommerce for PayPal Express Checkout – Modules>Payment>PayPal Express Checkout : enter the 3 values (a) API Username (b) API Password (c) API Signature. You will find those under PayPal Sandbox at the API Credentials link. Click Save. Click the ‘Test API Credentials’ link (found at the top of PayPal Express Checkout settings). You should see “Success”. (For production use, you will use a different set of credentials and you get those from your PayPal Business Account settings at My Account>Profile>My Selling Tools>Selling Online>API Access>Update>View API Signature … WOW, that one’s well hidden!)
  • go you your store, put an item in your cart, checkout, and click the PayPal button. you should be directed to the PayPal Sandbox to make a payment.
  • Pay using the id/password of the Buyer you set up earlier. Finish Checkout. You should be directed back to the store.

That’s it. Now, you’ve tested your user checkout experience – so that side isn’t a mystery to you. To go to production – change your API credentials as suggested above and you’re in business … literally.
Sign up for PayPal and start accepting credit card payments instantly.
A PayPal Business account charges $0.30+2.9% per transaction which is a great rate in the online payment arena – about 15% less expensive than the average service. The fee drops to 1.9% if your prior monthly sales volume exceeds USD$3,000. I hope you have such problems.

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