Google’s much hyped Google Checkout is not turning out to be the eBay PayPal killer that was speculated at launch less than two months ago.
Google planned on users flocking to “Find it with Google. Buy it with Google Checkout,” but the touted “checkout option that makes buying across the web fast and easy” does not appear to be resonating with consumers, or merchants.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt announced Google Checkout in June with his typical bluster:
The goal here is to make it be one nanosecond from the time the customer decides to buy to the time the transaction is complete and the product is on the way.
Salar Kamangar, Vice President of Product Management at Google, weighed in:
In the offline world, shoppers don't tolerate long lines and tedious data entry just to buy something. They shouldn't have to in the online world either. Google Checkout simplifies and improves the online purchase experience for both consumers and merchants.
But what is the reality of the Google Checkout experience?
From AdWords customers, to Google Checkout merchants, to would-be Google Checkout users, reports of technical problems and unsatisfactory service are surfacing.
IDG News Service cites Kirby Witmer on difficulties faced while trying to use Google Checkout, from both a customer and merchant perspective:
He attempted two different purchases from Buy.com Inc., but both transactions failed due to what Google described to him later as Checkout technical ‘issues,’ giving him ‘a 100 percent failure rate.’ Getting the orders canceled took over two weeks and multiple communications with Google and Buy.com.
Levi.com has reportedly removed the Google Checkout payment processing option from its Web site due to peformance shortcomings, acccording to MarketWatch.
The Google Checkout Blog reports on changes made following user “feedback”:
We manually review a very small percentage of transactions, and we take the potential effect of this review time on order processing very seriously.
That's why we are constantly evaluating and streamlining the review process, working to minimize the impact on order processing while still helping protect your business. We acted early on to address the feedback we received from some merchants about the review process, taking steps to streamline it, reduce review times, and communicate with sellers more clearly about our fraud-prevention efforts. We've also been working to fine-tune our systems so they're even more effective at identifying transactions that warrant review. We're committed to constantly improving this area and the entire product.
Google launched Google Checkout touting how it “works with Google's search advertising program, AdWords.”
Google, however, was recently showing “Sponsored Links” including the Google Checkout icon for advertisers not using Google Checkout.
Google said of the snafu:
For a short period…the Google Checkout icon was inadvertently assigned to ads for U.S. AdWords clients who are not Checkout users. We resolved this very quickly and do not expect it to impact ad performance.
In “Google Checkout pitch: '1000 dollars in AdWords for 10,000 in free processing'” I reflect on how the service did not garner much buzz at the Search Engine Strategies Conference earlier this month:
The ‘Meet The Search Ad Networks’ panel was designed for ‘representatives from major search engines that sell paid listings and other search advertising to discuss new aspects to their programs.’
Google’s presentation, by Emily White, Online Sales and Operations Director, focused on enhancements to the Google AdWords program, such as ‘Starter Edition,’ but Google Checkout was not mentioned.
The panel also included an extensive Q & A session and Google AdWords customers inquired about many Google features, but Google Checkout was not discussed.
The ballyhooed Google Checkout icon is not ubiquitous at Google.com. A search today for “online shopping” yielded:
1.13 billion results
A Google “Sponsored Link” promoting Google Checkout
Nine “Sponsored Links” of Ecommerce properties
BUT No Google Checkout icons
It is not surprising that Google Checkout is not the eBay PayPal killer it was feared to represent; Google Checkout is not a compelling “competitor” to eBay PayPal.
eBay’s PayPal is a direct payment alternative enabling, according to PayPal:
any individual or business with an email address to securely, easily and quickly send and receive payments online
Google’s Checkout is a credit card gateway to make, according to Google:
online shopping sprees faster, easier and much more fun