June 29, 2006, 12:00 AM

Google launches a streamlined checkout process

Google today launched Google Checkout, a service that integrates the checkout process with search and advertising. It also allows AdWords merchants to process some or all of Checkout sales at no charge.


Google Inc. today launched its long-anticipated payment service that enables shoppers to purchase from participating stores with a single Google log-in. The service-Google Checkout-also works with Adwords, Google’s search advertising program, allowing merchants to acquire new customers and process all or a portion of their Checkout sales for free.

Google Checkout is designed to integrate the checkout process with search and advertising, “helping users complete the cycle of searching, finding and buying,” said Salar Kamangar, vice president of product management.

“In the offline world, shoppers don’t tolerate long lines and tedious data entry just to buy something,” Kamangar said. “They shouldn’t have to in the online world either. Google Checkout simplifies and improves the online purchase experience for both consumers and merchants.”

Shoppers can find retailers accepting Google Checkout by looking for its icon on AdWords advertisements or at a retailer’s site. To use Google Checkout, shoppers create a log-in at the merchant’s site using a single user name and password by entering basic information such as contact details, payment preferences, and shipping information once.

Thereafter, when checking out at any store offering Google Checkout, shoppers simply select the Google Checkout option and complete the transaction with their log-in information. Shoppers also can track their purchase history, including orders and shipping details, through the system.

Shoppers can use most existing payment methods with Google Checkout, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. All credit card data will be concealed and Google Checkout will reimburse shoppers for unauthorized purchases.

Although Google Checkout isn’t set up to accept PayPal, that option might be added if requested by users, a Google spokeswoman says.

While it’s a payment service, Google Checkout is really meant to drive search traffic and revenue for Google, says Charlene Li, Forrester Research analyst.

It is also is set up to streamline the checkout process to increase conversion rates, Li says. “It’s the equivalent of having one-click checkout on the merchant site, but it goes across many different merchant sites, so you’re not tied into one system,” she says.

For merchants, the Google Checkout icon on AdWords ads also makes it easier for shoppers to find Google Checkout stores when they search. Once shoppers buy with Google Checkout, AdWords advertisers can process all or a portion of their sales for free. For every $1 merchants spend on AdWords, they can process $10 in sales through Google Checkout at no charge. Otherwise, the standard rate for Google Checkout will be 2% of the sale plus 20 cents per transaction. Google has a relationship with a transaction processing institution.

The service is open to all U.S. merchants, even if they don’t advertise with Google, and Google is working to make the service available to merchants worldwide.

Retailers can provide the new checkout option using cut-and-paste buy buttons as well as an advanced API that integrates with existing merchant shopping carts and order management systems. E-commerce platform providers integrating Google Checkout include GSI Commerce, MonsterCommerce and ChannelAdvisor. Retailers offering the option include BackCountry.com, Jockey, Starbucks, Levi’s, Timberland, Buy.com and Ritz Interactive sites.

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