August 9, 2007, 12:00 AM

Google Checkout still sparkles for Zales

Google Checkout accounted for 8% of sales at jeweler Zales’ web site during a Google-funded promotion last fall, but has since then settled down to 5%. Zales plans to offer another discount coupon as part of Google’s back-to-school promotion.

Google Checkout accounted for 8% of sales at jeweler Zales Corp.’s web site last fall when Google funded a $10 off coupon for shoppers who used Google Checkout. Since the promotion ended, Google Checkout payments have settled down to a steady 5% of sales, says Steve Larkin, senior vice president of ecommerce at ZLC Direct, the online retailing arm of Zales and two other jewelry companies it owns, Gordon’s Jewelers and Bailey Banks & Biddle.

Larkin says he was surprised that a $10 promotion would cause such a spike because items on the Zales site start at around $200. He attributes part of the increase to the buzz from bargain-hunting blogs that spread the word about the discount offer.

Zales is preparing to offer a $10 coupon for Google Checkout users as part of a broader back-to-school promotion Google is preparing. Larkin says this promotion is funded by the merchants, not Google. Google spent $60 million last fall funding coupons good for discounts at Google Checkout merchants as a way to introduce the payment service that launched in June 2006.

Larkin says cart abandonment is about 10% less with Google Checkout shoppers, indicating their comfort with shopping the web. “They’re committed online shoppers,” he says.

With Google Checkout, consumers register their address and payment card details with Google, then can pay at participating merchants just by entering their Google passwords. EBay Inc.’s PayPal unit offers a similar service called PayPal Express Checkout that also offers PayPal as a payment option. Larkin, who says he is happy to accept payment however the shopper wants to pay, says he is in the process of adding PayPal Express Checkout as a payment option.

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