Why Use Google Checkout?

I just recently made a purchase using Google Checkout. As a disclosure this was my first and only one so far. I base my observations on that purchase and that purchase alone. I did it with Buy.com, and got $20 off my purchase. After all, how can you pass that up? I also qualified for free shipping. The process was extremely simple and strait forward as Google services typically are. However I did notice a few minor quirks:

  • Confirmation emails from both Google and Buy.com, which is really unnecessary and should be avoidable.
  • Two different order numbers is confusing when you check your status. Go to Buy.com and you now have to select which order type: Buy.com, Google Checkout, or PayPal to view the status. That’s an extra step that really shouldn’t happen. You can also check the status from within Google Checkout, but no tracking number.

The real advantage to Google Checkout was the discount ($20 off my purchase with no questions, rebates, coupon codes). Other than that, it’s just a way to keep all your online purchases in 1 easy to read place. I wonder how many really need such functionality? I almost never have more than 2 or 3 things (and even that is very rare) on order. Even in those cases I get emails when they ship, and can check the status easily. I never feel that it’s disorganized or I could loose track of things. Even when everything is from different places.

So what’s the incentive to use Google Checkout? There are some for merchants, but really no clear advantage for consumers when purchasing with larger retailers. The only real place where it would be helpful is with smaller sites where you may not want to give the merchant your credit card and feel better with Google mediating. Ebay would be another place, though not allowed. Most mainstream merchants will likely still process payments themselves, I don’t see the Amazon.com’s, Buy.com’s, Overstock.com’s, etc. using Google Checkout exclusively. So why not just use the billing system they provide?

So what’s the incentive to use the service now that the savings are done (the promotion ended on December 26th)? Does anyone see a real advantage of the service when using popular merchants? I personally don’t. I wouldn’t have bothered to use it if it wasn’t giving me a discount. Google claims:

Stop creating multiple accounts and passwords.
With Google Checkout™ you can quickly and easily buy from stores across the web and track all your orders and shipping in one place.

How many people regularly shop from more than a handful of retailers? Is this really such an issue? I’d guess most people tend to use the same username/password on multiple sites anyway (or a variation, or a password manager), or use SafePasswd.com to help them generate passwords they can remember (hint, hint). Browsers also remember login credentials for users. Amazon goes as far as keeping users logged in and offers “1-Click” purchasing.

Shop with confidence.
Our fraud protection policy covers you against unauthorized purchases made through Google Checkout, and we don’t share your purchase history or full credit card number with sellers.

Most credit card companies offer the same fraud protection. Purchase history? So they will ship my package and not record what went where? How is that audited? My guess is merchants know who bought what. I do believe they keep your credit number away from sellers, but do you often buy from someone you don’t really trust (besides Ebay, which doesn’t allow Google Checkout)?

Control commercial spam.
You can keep your email address confidential, and easily turn off unwanted emails from stores where you use Google Checkout.

I’m not sure about anyone else, but the sellers I buy from don’t spam me. I just choose not to receive promotions from the ones I don’t want.

Perhaps I’m a stubborn person for not purchasing from just anyone with a website (since I know they aren’t that difficult to make). I tend to buy only from reputable merchants with a proven track record. I know offers too good to be true, typically are. I wouldn’t walk into a shady store with 0 customers in a bad neighborhood either. Maybe that’s just me.

So what’s the killer feature of Google Checkout? What does it offer?

2 thoughts on “Why Use Google Checkout?

  1. It’s a play against Paypal and Ebay… the fees are lower than Paypal, so Google is trying to use their weight to alter the market.

    As for why to buy from merchants, if you’re buying, say, a $200 custom something-or-other, compare the Paypal vs Google Checkout fees for them. I don’t remember the exact percentages, but it’s about $3 difference, if I recall correctly. That’s a lotta money being saved over the entire internet… and it’ll be “saved” away from Paypal.

    As a teeny-tiny blogger about to offer my first standing inventory online (as opposed to Ebay sales, and direct boardgame trades), I’m already hip deep in Google for email and AdSense, so why not jump in? I know Google knows how to produce a well-engineered signup and startup experience, and my one question so far that wasn’t in the FAQ was answered quickly via email.

    Paypal’s okay, and I have some money in their money-market account; nevertheless, their fees are just enough higher to be perceived as pain.

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