My experience using Google Checkout as a merchant

One thing that has changed is the new Google Checkout. We’ve been working with GC (Gbuy as it was known in beta) for a while now. I really like the UI for the customer experience. Checkout is easy and pretty much painless.

On our backend, it is pretty straightforward and foolproof. Just a series of XML passing back and forth between us and Google updating the order status and injecting orders into our backend.

It has a lot more legs than MS Passport and I think it will prove to be a value add for Ecommerce in general, and particularly the consumer.

Having said all that, here are my issues:
Once a customer places an order, there is no way to edit the order. If the customer requests expedited shipping after the order was placed, you have to either give it (expedited shipping) away at no additional charge, or cancel the order and reprocess it in your internal order management system.

When an order is placed by the customer, their credit card/debit card is authorized to ensure available funds, and to hold such available funds. If the order is not charged within 3 days, Google will re-authorize the card and then capture the funds, resulting in 2 auths and a capture. This presents problems for debit card owners over weekends and holidays. Google stated that they are working on this to extend the timeframe for re-auth.

Orders tend to get in a state of “reviewing”, meaning the funds have not been authorized and the merchant cannot process the order, quite often. It seems these orders are being subject to a manual review. Based on customer feedback, I think this happens more often when the original auth fails and the customer has to go back and edit the credit card information.

Google has a Payment Guarantee Policy that should cover fraud as Google performs the AVS and CVN matches and doesn’t give the merchant any additional billing information. Some orders have a full match on the AVS and CVN, but Google still denies their eligibility for the Payment Guarantee Policy.

From Google:

“Google relies on a variety of proprietary systems–including internal data sources and advanced risk modeling–to evaluate the risk levels associated with transactions. If the risk level for a particular transaction is too high, Google will not cover the transaction under the Payment Guarantee Policy.”

These orders are still covered under the Chargeback Resolution Policy, but that does not guarantee you will receive your funds back for chargebacks.

The last drawback I’ll talk about, and it is big, is that there is no way to persist your website metrics through checkout. We use Omniture analytics and there is no way to report that a visitor that used Google checkout completed a transaction. There’s not even a way to use Google adwords conversion tracking in Google checkout. This results in a low conversion rate whereby, we have to do manual ‘cipherin’ to figure out the true conversion. I hope Google allows us to place code on the “thank you” page in the near future as this is a real pain in the ass.

Overall though, I think the product is great. Although it may be in beta for the next 3-5 years, they’ve already made some strong improvements to the product. I have high hopes for the future.

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3 Comments »

  1. Hey Brandon,

    We were a Google Checkout Early Adopter too. We have a potential API integration client that has affiliates and we will need to pass the affiliate code thru the checkout process to credit the affiliate with the sale. Have you tried using the merchant-private-data to possibly pass Omniture IDs thru the process and then create a page to run after a successful purchase. Perhaps using lynx or curl?

    xxxxxxxx

    Then, when you get the new-order-notification, you could:

    lynx http://www.domain.com/page-that-process-omniture-code.html

    I haven’t tried this, but had thought about it and thought I would share the idea.

  2. My <‘s and >’s got stripped above.

    The xxxxxxxx, should read…

    <merchant-private-data>
    <omniture-id>xxxxxxxx</omniture-id>
    </merchant-private-data>

  3. Maximus said

    I would like to see a continuation of the topic

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