Search Giant Intros ‘Checkout’

NEW YORK Google has launched Google Checkout, a technology platform designed to streamline the online shopping process for retailers and Web users.

Through the new service, referred to by many as “GBuy,” participating retailers elect to place a Google Checkout logo on the shopping sections of their Web sites, and then turn over all transactional processing, including credit card billing, to Google. On the user side of the equation, frequent shoppers can choose to register with Google Checkout and avoid having to fill out shipping and billing information each time they shop on other participating sites.

Google is charging a flat fee for merchants to use the new product, but mostly providing the service free to advertisers. Brands electing to purchase keyword ads through Google’s AdWords program will receive a specified amount of Google Checkout transactional credits, depending upon their spending level. Plus, Google will display a Google Checkout link just below these advertisers’ text ads.

While Google Checkout will generate some revenue on its own, “We don’t view it as a stand-alone business,” said Ben Ling, Google product manager. Rather, the service should entice more advertisers to purchase AdWords inventory, he said, while also increasing current advertisers’ click-through and conversion rates—since users will theoretically be able to complete transactions faster.

Though many in the industry have been expecting Google Checkout to compete directly with eBay’s online payment product PayPal, Ling downplayed such talk, saying that the new product is focused on shopping, rather than person-to-person money transfer.

At launch, the brands Jockey, Levi’s and Timberland have signed on to participate in Google Checkout, as well as