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Google Checkout is now live
and merchants don't get customer email addresses or cc info

 8:32 am on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

Google Checkout is now live and I just signed up. Hey! I wonder if Google Checkout will work with all my Yahoo! Stores?


A few things I noticed while signing up:

  • At first blush, it looks a whole lot more like the back end of Yahoo! Store than like PayPal (to me), but I don't use PayPal as a merchant bank.

  • Last month's AdWords spend defrays your credit card percentage on GC orders, so it's like getting a 20% rebate on your advertising.

  • The Google Checkout ICON will appear by your Google AdWords ad, not your organic search, which separates editorial from advertising.

  • Your customers' credit card statements will show the charge from Google + {Your Business Name}.

  • Merchants have to post shipping and returns policies as well as URLS to your FAQ and policy pages on your own Google Checkout pages.

  • Google doesn't share customer info (email / credit card numbers) with the merchant so shoppers may feel more comfortable shopping online.

    There are all kinds of links to things like the HELP section and a GOOGLE GROUPS that don't work quite yet, but I'll poke around a bit more and see what I can see.

    More in a bit. Things just got a whole bunch more interesting in E-commerce-ville, folks!

    Rob Snell
    (Somewhere in rural Mississippi)



     6:31 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    I like this! Come on now launch it world wide and make it person to person.


     8:15 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Has anyone noticed that Google does not give merchants full details about buyers?

    Here is a quote from Section 7 of the Terms of Service:

    "Notwithstanding anything to the contrary, Seller shall hold confidential and shall not use, transmit (including for the purpose of sending unsolicited communications), or use such Buyer Information (as defined in the Data Usage Policy), except as provided in the data usage policy (as may be updated from time to time) (the “Data Usage Policy”). "

    The "Data Usage Policy" link returns a 404 error, so we can't be sure yet what the terms are.

    I have read elsewhere that they will only give the name and address of the customer, but not the credit card number or email address.

    I don't want Google telling me how I can interact with my customers. They are my customers, after all and I spend a lot of time and money to acquire them. Contacting prior customers to sell additional services is the basis of any successful business.

    Like a previous poster in this thread, I think the amount of information Google is collecting about buyers and sellers is tremendous and will have great value. Shouldn't Google be paying me?

    Google is asking too much to do something that is done by dozens of other companies for similar prices.


     8:38 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    [Google] will only give the name and address of the customer, but not the credit card number or email address

    Yes, but your customer can give you their email address, if the customer wants you to have it.


     8:48 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    I expected Google to provide a PHP or Perl example script (which I have not found yet)



     9:09 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Doing business with someone who is hiding who they really are is a serious risk.

    If both buyer and seller are to act in good faith, there must full disclosure and transparency on both sides.

    If a buyer cannot trust a seller to use their personal information appropriately, then they should not be doing business with that seller.


     9:23 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    I currently use Cube C_rt. Is there a way to integrae this, or would I need to add a button for each and every product?


     9:34 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Farmboy: The way I have my Google Checkout experimental HTML page set up is a lot like the way smaller retailers use PayPal buttons. I just pasted some code from the GC button wizard and it worked. This would NOT work for the majority of my clients with Yahoo! Stores (like Store Tags doesn't) because I don't think anyone wants to crank those out by hand.

    Here's how the Google Checkout Order Flow looks:

  • Shopper is on the "product page" and clicks the button (BUY NOW - Google Checkout) . (Note to self: Shouldn't this say "Add to Cart?")

  • Shopper is taken off my site to a secure page on Google Checkout server. with a URL like:

    - Google Checkout looks like a SHOPPING CART page if you're not logged into your Google Account.

    - Page prompts you to "Create a Google Account to complete this purchase" or "Sign in if you already have a Google Account"

    - If you are logged in to a Google Account, but you don't have a credit card associated with that account, you are prompted to "Add a credit card to your Google Account to complete this purchase."

    - Shoppers logged in to a Google Account WITH a credit card attached get the page that looks more like a typical checkout page:

    Review and Place Order with
  • Order Details {Business name/address}
  • Qty, Item, Price, Tax, & Total
  • Option: "Keep my email address confidential. Google will forward all email to {company name}"
  • Option: I want to receive promotional email from {company name}.
  • Pay with: / Ship to: Address
  • Phone:
  • Place your order now ${price}

  • After Shopper "places order" they are sent to the confirmation page:

    "Thanks for your order! A copy of your receipt has been emailed to you and saved in Google Checkout purchase history. You can check your receipt at any time for up-to-date order status.

  • WRINKLE: Right now there's not a way back to the merchant's site. I'm sure they'll add that or my merchants will freak.

    Rob Snell

  • jgbmarc

     10:00 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Merchants, How are you all handling affiliate sale referrals? A Google Checkout button in the cart is a major leak for that traffic. From what I understand the confirmation is not on the merchant's site. So how is that referral credited to the appropriate affiliate source when tracking with a confirmation page pixel?


     10:26 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    More thoughts:

    On Google Accounts:

  • I created a brand new Google Account for my initial sign up as a Merchant at the URL MonsterCEO posted earlier this morning: [checkout.google.com...]

  • I added a credit card pretty easily to two Gmail accounts for placing some test orders.

  • My client's Google Adwords account (on a totally separate Google Account/login) hooked up right away with my new Google Checkout Account when I gave GC my "public domain."

  • I accidentally put the wrong expiration date in a transaction and my credit card company called me this "morning" to make sure everything was okay.

    On Google AdWords Rebates:

  • You quickly reach a point of diminishing returns on the 20% of your Adwords spend getting rebated to cover your credit card processing expense.

  • Right now (on one of my larger client accounts) my Google Adwords monthly spend is about the same as their monthly merchant bank / credit card processing expense.

  • To totally max out and get "free" credit card processing, I'd have to jack my Google Adwords spend 5x what I'm spending now. I'd also have to use GC for all my checkouts which just ain't gonna happen.

    I would spend more in a heartbeat if I could get the ROI I need, but the traffic and conversions just haven't been there when I DO ramp it up. I'll take every $5 bill I can get for 80-cents on the dollar!

  • I see the 20% rebate almost like taking an early pay discount. The cash won't change your life, but I'll take every discount and rebate I can get on money I'm already spending.

  • I don't see the 20% rebate being a short-term deal. Yahoo! Shopping gives Yahoo! Store merchants 20% off rate card for PPC clicks and has for two or three years.

    On Google Checkout being a Catastrophic Cart Killer

  • I still see GC as just another way to pay, like PayPal which just happens to have a shopping cart feature. And look at all these cart folks lining up to integrate their carts with GC. (Yahoo Store folks?)

    I think Google will make more by tapping into the base of hundreds of thousands of merchants and getting 2% of all their sales versus trying to pry my cold, dead hands off my Yahoo! Store. (I can love Google and Yahoo!)

  • The idea of using Google Checkout in conjunction with a Yahoo! Store kind of reminds me of the Yahoo! Store / Paypal hack. Don Cole of YstoreTools perfected it before the current Yahoo! Store PayPal integration.

    The old way: Customer checks out through the Yahoo! checkout so Yahoo! gets their revenue share and THEN the customer has to check out all over again in PayPal.

    The new way: Customer checks out through the Yahoo! checkout but gets ported over to Paypal in the middle of the transaction so Yahoo! gets their revenue share.

  • Yahoo is not ENTIRELY anti-Google, as long as they get their revenue share. Yahoo just went waaaaaaaaay out of their way to add a way for Yahoo! Store merchants using the Store Editor to fully utilize Google SiteMaps.

    For me, using Google Checkout is more about making sure my customers can pay me anyway they want to. I also want to make sure I have the "little green shopping cart" by MY ads in Google Adwords.

    I guess later I'll figure out whether the don't give that Merchant my email address and/or cc info feature and 2 click checkout feature are worth the effort needed to FULLY implement with a Yahoo! Store.

    Ultimately, I guess it all comes down to what checkout converts better.

    Rob Snell

    edited a typo

    [edited by: robsnell at 10:43 pm (utc) on June 29, 2006]

  • robsnell

     10:30 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    from: [checkout.google.com...]

    What does it mean if a seller tracks affiliate advertising?

    Google Checkout allows stores to track affiliate advertising by adding a web beacon to the Google Checkout order confirmation page. A web beacon is an electronic image (1x1 .gif) within a web page that helps a seller analyze customer traffic, and track transactions.

    Google does not allow sellers to collect personal information through web beacons. We'll will show a message along the bottom of your order confirmation page when a seller is tracking affiliate advertising, but if you'd like to opt-out of affiliate tracking, ...

    Ouch! Telling folks how to opt out of affiliate tracking is kinda mean, don't ya think? -- ROB


     10:41 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Thanks for tracking that down Rob. It's helpful..


     10:47 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Thanks. I'm embarrassed, but I have almost doubled my WebmasterWorld post count with this single thread about Google Checkout.

    Finally, something that REALLY trips my trigger. For other longtime lurkers/infrequent posters this is MUCH more fun! -- ROB


     11:00 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Thanks. I'm embarrassed, but I have almost doubled my WebmasterWorld post count,

    Rob, thank you for taking the time to post what you are discovering. I'm sure I speak for others when I say your posts have been a valuable aid in assessing this release.


     11:02 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    WRINKLE: Right now there's not a way back to the merchant's site.

    That sounds like an important omission.



     11:06 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    You can get back to the merchant's site three ways:

    -Google specifies that the "Back" button in your browser needs to work to get back to an editable cart

    -You can click Change Order in Google on sites that support it (simple to implement)

    -After check, sites can implement a Continue Shopping link (in our case, that clears the cart for the customer, where the top two don't)


     11:13 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    SmartPricing is a barrier to entry for AdSense competitors. If it accurately rewards publishers who give advertisers good ROI, then AdSense competitors are essentially able to poach only the worst AdSense publishers -- and their advertisers will figure out they get a consistently better ROI at Google.

    The real problem with SmartPricing is that Google's had very poor data to base it on. Most advertisers don't opt into the Google system that lets them know when a conversion took place.

    Now they have a solution. Instead of a lame conversion tracking system, they have a reasonably competitive checkout system to offer. If they can get a decent percentage (say, 15%) of all their advertisers to sign up, then they've got some real golden data for making SmartPricing better.

    • I'll bet the AdWords discount lasts much longer than Brett predicts. Only a fraction of their total advertisers will go to the trouble to try out a new checkout system within the next 12 months. Given the data they get back, they can probably even afford to lose money on that fraction that signs up.
    • If they can sign up an appreciable number of vendors, watch the AdSensers howl (while some other AdSensers quietly smile and count their money). Google will amplify even more the difference between what they pay a good ROI publisher and what they pay a bad ROI publisher for the exact same click.
    • The barrier to entry that improving SmartPricing offers is active, not passive. When the bad ROI AdSensers start to howl that they're getting paid peanuts, they will beat down the door to try Yahoo and MSN -- who will be chagrined to find that a whole bunch of publishers who don't give advertisers a very good ROI want to do business with them. But they won't know those folks offer lousy ROI until after they sign them up -- if then! Not only does this discourage growth for AdSense competitors, it may actively drive some of their existing advertisers away.

    Google is always, ultimately, about profiting from data mining. This new venture is about getting solid conversion data that no other AdSense competitor has. They will turn that data into profit by being able to offer AdWords advertisers better deals than anyone else, and by being able to offer the best AdSense publishers better deals than anyone else.


     11:16 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Also - their system is totally jammed up, so we can't ship any Google Checkout orders today. They still accept orders, but they can't be processed.


     11:28 pm on Jun 29, 2006 (gmt 0)

    From my perspective -- multiple currency processing and overseas merchants should be allowed in quickly. Sounds like a much better deal than what we have with Worldpay, given the amount of money we spend on Adwords.

    So at some point, we would have got adwords, google analytics and google checkout running on this shop.

    Wonder when Google will take over site maintenance algorithmically using users preferences(I'm sure their PhDs can beat up Amazon's) and build half a dozen warehouses next to their data centers to handle the logistics. Hmm... Google Shop and Google Ship.


     1:54 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    You can get back to the merchant's site three ways:

    To set up an automated process to sell something that requires the customer to return to a page on the merchant's site - to download software, for example - it needs to be clear to the customer that (1) he needs to click to continue and (2) it needs to be easy.

    Otherwise, you lose the benefit of automation.



     2:29 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Anybody find the BUY NOW buttons. I was in G's beta on this, have a merchant ID, but when I follow their instructions to go to "settings" in my account, there's nothing there that says "BUY NOW BUTTONS"....:(

    As is the usual case with me and my Google account, it's nearly impossible to use.

    Any help would be appreciated.


     3:07 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    This is what works on NON Beta accounts. Hope this helps.

    To get to the buttons wizard, go here:


    1. Sign in to your Google Checkout account at https://checkout.google.com/sell
    The ORDERS tab appears.

    2. Click the SETTINGS tab.
    The SETTINGS: Profile page appears with links on the sidebar to
    Financials, AdWords, Preferences, Integration, and Buy Now buttons.

    3. Click the "Buy Now buttons" link.
    The "Create a Buy Now Button" page appears.

    Buy Now buttons allow you to sell individual items on your own website. No shopping cart is required - buyers will be taken directly to Google Checkout where they can complete their purchase


     3:20 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Google Checkout allows stores to track affiliate advertising by adding a web beacon to the Google Checkout order confirmation page. A web beacon is an electronic image (1x1 .gif) within a web page that helps a seller analyze customer traffic, and track transactions.

    Hmmm... Isn't that called the "pixel bug"? I believe there were tools made specifically to block these single pixel "beacons" because people didn't wanted to be tracked.


     6:40 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Setup was a breeze. Easy button creation. Lack of subscription means I have to stay with paypal a bit. I like that the money goes to my real bank account. I've used paypal for years, since it began, but always dislike having money there. They pay decent interest but the money is not as safe or insured as a real bank. I know from several others that they can seize your account at any time without reason and then it takes months to argue and get it back.

    Competition is usually good so it'll be interesting to see how it works out. Maybe someone will start of offer customer service again and be innovative.


     8:06 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    There is a shopping cart icon? Does that show up on the SERPs?

    Ouch. If so, this is a little painful for international merchants who don't have access to this feature..


     9:08 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    If you don't get the customers email address, how do you contact the customer (in case of items being out of stock etc...)

    And does the customer get a confirmation of order email from the Google payment page? If they want to move into the EU, this is a requirement that you confirm the order details with the customer without undue delay.


     10:04 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

  • The shopping cart icon shows up by the Adwords ad's URL. It's kinda small. The only one I saw was on a search for the name of BETA merchant with a two-word name.

    First word is the opposite of "front." Second word comes from my favorite Blues Brothers quote: We got both kinds of music here. We got _ _ _ _ _ _ _ *and* western.

  • And merchants DO get to email their customers, it's just that shoppers can choose to have a temporary email address to REALLY protect their privacy.

    Hello {Merchant name},

    firstname-bj548rg81o8@checkout.google.com has just completed a purchase from your store. Below is the summary of the transaction.

    Qty Item Price
    1 Test Item - Test Item $1.00
    Tax (MS): $0.00
    Total: $1.00

  • blaze

     10:11 am on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    I gotta admit, with all this talk of net neutrality, Google isn't exactly treating all it's customers fairly (discounts going to people using their checkout system..)


     1:14 pm on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Right now it is only available in the US and not available for me but since I believe google checkout will be available internationally in the future here my thoughts on google checkout:

    Here in Germany I am required by law to send out an email to the customer immediately to confirm the receipt of his order. Not only do I have to include my full contact information and address but also certain legal statements that inform the customer of his right to revoke his order within 14 days and so on.

    Also this confirmation email has several legal implications if not worded carefully, for example if a purchase contract is concluded immediately or only on delivery of the goods. Which has implications on liability for mistakes on the website (for example wrong price). And I could go on and on with this.

    So there is no way Google could keep the email information hidden from me or send any emails on my behalf unless they want to be more than a payment provider and actually act as contracting party.


     4:53 pm on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    How is google checkout going to check for frauds? What if there is a need to cancel orders, how would it work?


     7:53 pm on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    Rob, I can't seem to do anything, I just continue to get error messages, whenever I try to sign up. Pretty frustrating. Contacted G support, they tell me to log in and blah, blah, blah. Keep getting an error page no matter what.



     9:26 pm on Jun 30, 2006 (gmt 0)

    I definately want to use Google Checkout as another payment choice for our customers besides PayPal and regular credit card payment. But we have a big problem here: our site and shopping card are programmed by classic ASP, we won't use "Buy Now" button, we will use Google Checkout API to integrate with our own shopping cart. Base on google's documentation, we need to install GCrypt.g_crypt.2. ActiveX Com object on the server to encode strings and generate HMAC-SHA1 signatures. We use sharing hosting service right now and have no way to install anything on the server. How should we figure out this problem? Actually, we have been trying our best to avoid any API which needs to install special software all the time.

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