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It was once said, “What is good for General Motors is good for America.” Fast-forward fifty years and the engine of the economy is no longer nuts and bolts manufacturing, but the dissemination of information and entertainment at little to no direct cost. Maybe the new catch-phrase should be, “What is good for Google is good for the U.S.”
Amazing, that a business built on search has so many different and wide-ranging initiatives; from the creation of a smart-electrical grid to assembling the largest library ever assembled. Not all of Google’s initiatives will necessarily prove to be successful, since they are often competing with entrenched ways of doing things, but Google is definitely changing the way business is done.
Google Checkout is one of their product initiatives which has made some traction, but that still pales in size compared to the entrenched competition. Google Checkout’s main competitor, PayPal , works great and is an excellent alternative to the traditional bank merchant accounts that require monthly fees and have barriers to sign-up. When I investigated it in the past, there was no compelling reason to try Google Checkout as it seemed comparable to my existing PayPal service, but not necessarily better.
The annual Halloween fundraiser at my sons’ elementary school gave me the reason I needed to try Google Checkout. One of the things Google is doing to encourage use of their service is waiving all processing fees for non-profits until the end of this year. That was enough to convince the school treasurer (aka my wife) that we should abandon our tried and true merchant account that worked so smoothly the previous year.
Set-up of Google Checkout was straightforward, except when we got to the part of embedding the “donate” button onto a web site. Since we didn’t have enough time to work it through the school webmaster, we decided to place the donate button on the Google Site associated with our Google account (see above). Setting up Google Site was easy enough, but after about an hour of trying, we gave up on embedding the donate button in our Google Site; this should be dirt simple to connect these two Google products.
As a quick fix, we embedded Google Checkout on the Viodi web site and it seemed to work great. Still, the idea of dozens of people chomping at the bit to pay for their winning bids after a long evening of auction and carnival fun had me a bit on edge. Fortunately, we were seemingly ready with our three computers and their browsers pointed to the Google Checkout button on the Viodi web site.
Unfortunately, my concerns were justified, as we ran into problems with our first transaction. Google Checkout requires an email address and password. What we found out (and this is probably documented somewhere, but we didn’t bother to look) is that a person can enter an email address and make up a password. He will then receive a confirmation email that also asks if the person wants to create a gmail account (kudos to Google for good-viral marketing).
If the email the person enters, however, is somehow associated with a gmail account (e.g., it could be the email he used to open his gmail account), then the password he enters must be his gmail password. Probably ¼ of the people could not remember their gmail password and, as a result, some of the checkouts took as long as 15 minutes; ouch.
If Google had just made the email and password fields optional, we would have saved a great deal of time and reduced unneeded frustration. Fortunately, our frustrations were tempered with the knowledge that we were saving more than $200 in transaction costs. So despite our minor issues with its payment processing system, Google was good for us.