Thursday, June 29, 2006

Check out Google Checkout



The word has come down.
Google Checkout is here.

I knew something was up a while back with all of the chatter over Google's counter to PayPal. I went to checkout GBuy (thinking they'd to a "Gbuy.com" in the same way they did "Gmail.com"). That was a non-starter. Then I went to http://purchases.google.com/ That should have given me nothing. Instead, it gave me my account profile, as though soon something more for my Account profile would be here.

Today I logged in to find that in lieu of my account setting, there is a login page for Google Checkout. It obvious you can sign in buy stuff via Google. What is a little less obvious is that you can also be Google Checkout seller. It is closely tied into Adwords-- including incentives if you , as a Google Adwords account holder, choose to use Google Checkout to hawk your wares.

Unfortunately, it looks like Google lags behind Paypal out of the gate. This service is only available to American users of Google. https://purchases.google.ca/ is a dead link-- no coming soon or account information available, there.

Google Checkout does offer a Developer Center (https://checkout.google.com/seller/developers.html). An API and set of resources for you to help an e-commerce provider get going. If this API is like the other Google APIs, this could be a 9.0 quake on the e-commerce/shopping cart scene. So many players in the field are so lousy at their jobs that a contender like Google (combining size, quality and chutzpah) could send a lot of e-commerce providers packing. Here's a quickie view of what the API offers:

The Google Checkout API automates a variety of processes for you, including:
  • Sending your shopping cart to Google
  • Processing orders (charging credit cards, updating order states, archiving orders)
  • Cancelling and refunding orders
  • Applying tax and shipping rates based on a buyer's shipping address.
  • Processing coupon and promotion codes

I love these animations-- so pithy and tidy.
These are all things that have caused developers sleepless nights. Or, the developer has been able to lean on expensive products and providers to carry out the work that may be prohibitive for the Mom'n'Pop web shops.

I am intrigued by this move on Google's part. As a Canadian, I am not thrilled by their US-Only approach. Will they expand to other countries (to the remaining 95% of the world?): likely eventually. When will they do that? Who knows. If they their ass handed to them after the battle with Paypal, they may never expand and leave Google Checkout has a PT boat in their fleet. If they can couple all of their suite of tools in something huge (advertise on Google Base; research it via Froogle; find the pick-up location via Google Maps; pay for it with Google Checkout), then Paypal will wither. Given Paypal's behaviour over its lifespan, I would be happy with that. What we don't need is Paypal 2.0 piped out from the Googleplex: all of the alienation of the customer base; all of the inconsistent service; and the ability to buy/sell online.

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