The Google Checkout process officially launched, offering its users a unified shopping process that emphasizes safety and user control of the online retail experience.
"Want a faster, safer and more convenient way to shop online? You got it," Google says on the main page for Google Checkout. The service allows its users to shop from multiple online stores with a single login.
Google also addressed consumer confidence with the debut. It has a fraud protection policy in place to protect against unauthorized purchases made through Checkout. Also, Google said it does not share full credit card numbers or purchase history with sellers.
The Checkout homepage also displays a cross-promotion opportunity with credit card issuer Citi. Holders of Citi credit cards can optionally register them with checkout in exchange for $5 or 1000 ThankYou points.
Logging in to Checkout with a Google Account prompts the visitor to register a credit card and personal information like name, address, and phone number. Submitting the registration means agreeing to Checkout's recently updated terms of service.
(Hey Google, in section 4 of the TOS, it should be "bona fide" not "bone fide." Just trying to help.)
Once registered, Checkout returns its welcome screen and explains how to use the service. When searching Google for items, a green shopping cart icon next to a search result means the store accepts Google Checkout.
The user can shop as normal, and when it's time to checkout, clicking the Google Checkout button starts the process to complete the order.
On Checkout's welcome page, Google has listed a handful of retailers, like Timberland and Dick's Sporting Goods, that accept its payments. Also, a number of stores have coupon codes for $10 off a $20 or more purchase posted on the page.
The Account view of Checkout shows the default shipping address and payment method registered by the user. Any purchases made through Checkout will be listed in the Purchase History. The Account page also tracks the sellers the user has reviewed previously.
Debuts of new Google products always generate Apple-like buzz online, and Google Checkout is no exception, despite being a pretty mundane service at its core. Search Engine Watch editor Chris Sherman observed that Checkout isn't GBuy, the rumored PayPal killer some expected to debut this week.
Saul Hansell's report in the New York Times noted that Google CEO Eric Schmidt does not mind the prospect of Checkout being a loss leader if it leads to more advertiser spending with AdWords. Google will waive some or all of its 20 cents plus 2 percent of the purchase price fees for AdWords clients who sign on to accept Checkout.
Google's official blog entry emphasizes how Checkout speeds up the purchase process online. That streamlining should benefit buyers who use it.
To drive adoption of Checkout, and serve as a gateway to its AdWords products, Google offers features for sellers. The blog noted Google has worked to keep integration of Checkout into websites simple, and crafted "a range of integration alternatives such as cut and paste buy buttons, pre-integrated ecommerce partner offerings, and an API that supports more advanced integration."