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EcommerceBytes-NewsFlash, Number 1787 - May 12, 2008 - ISSN 1539-5065    2 of 5

AuctionBytes Interviews Google Checkout's Prem Ramaswami

By Ina Steiner
May 12, 2008

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Google Checkout allows sellers to process payments online, and its new shopping cart feature allows users to give websites "online store" capabilities. Prem Ramaswami, Associate Product Manager for Google Checkout, joins Ina Steiner of AuctionBytes to give us an update on Google's payment service. Ramaswami says Google Checkout's mission is to create the fastest, safest and most convenient shopping method for buyers, while enabling merchants to set up stores with simple point-and-click functionality. The full transcript follows, and the audio podcast can be accessed on the Ecommerce Industry SoundBytes page (http://podcast.auctionbytes.com/cgi-bin/podcast/pod.pl?/pl/2008/5/1210556254.html).


This is Ina Steiner with AuctionBytes.com. Prem Ramaswami, Associate Product Manager for Google Checkout, is joining us today to give us an update on Google's payment service. Hi, Prem.

Prem Ramaswami: Hi Ina, how are you doing?

AuctionBytes: Good, thanks. Can you share the adoption rate data among merchants, and are you seeing any changes now that processing fees went into effect in February?

Prem Ramaswami: So Ina, actually when we initially launched the product we had our baseline processing fees and we ran a promotion for approximately 15 months or so where we had suspended the processing fees. And right now our baseline rates of 2% plus $.20 per transaction are back we haven't noticed a difference at all. We don't share specific statistics, but what I can tell you is we continue to see an extremely strong interest from new merchants, and what we are also seeing is that many new merchants who weren't Adwords advertisers beforehand are now coming aboard and experiencing the benefits of getting this new stream of traffic through Adwords. One of the nice things about Checkout also is the fact that we offer a tie-in where if you spend one dollar in AdWords in January, you would get $10 in processing fees free in February.

AuctionBytes: That's a powerful incentive, I'm sure. Google Checkout is limited to merchants in certain countries. What are Google's plans for geographic expansion?

Prem Ramaswami: So I'm sure as you know, Google is an international country - company - and currently we have millions of buyers in over 140 countries and hundreds of thousands of sellers in the US and in the UK. We're always looking for new ways to expand our offerings in to new markets, but right now there are no specific plans that we have to announce.

AuctionBytes: Google Checkout recently launched a shopping cart. What are the benefits to online sellers?

Prem Ramaswami: So, the shopping cart feature is very interesting. What we did was we saw that when we initially released with our Buy Now buttons, we got a lot of merchant feedback saying that a lot of buyers wanted to be able to purchase more than one item at a time. And the Google shopping cart allows merchants to create these really easy add-to-cart buttons, and when you click them, these buttons will allow you to add it to a shopping cart widget that sits in the top right of your browser. It's extremely sleek user experience. What we're trying to do is allow our merchants to simply annotate some HTML code and really easily get the shopping cart to be able to work on their website. It's lightning fast integration and easy to use user experience that we feel really comfortable and confident about. Again, what we're trying to do is make the shopping experience fast, safe and convenient for buyers and at the same time try to create this easy to use interface for our merchants.

AuctionBytes: And you wouldn't have to have an ecommerce hosted website to integrate with the shopping cart?

Prem Ramaswami: No you wouldn't have to.

AuctionBytes: And the buyers, they don't have to download any software, is that correct?

Prem Ramaswami: No, the buyers would not have to download any software to be able to use this. Actually it's as simple as adding one line of code to the top of your HTML page. And then being able to annotate, as I said, each of the items in your HTML on the page itself.

AuctionBytes: So the merchant does all the work and the buyer is able to load up their shopping cart, is that the idea?

Prem Ramaswami: That is the idea. For the buyer it's a very simple experience and it looks - what we tried to do is bring the same Google user experience to the buyer.

AuctionBytes: But is it correct that the shopping cart can't factor in shipping costs, and wouldn't that be a dealbreaker for many merchants?

Prem Ramaswami: So as you know, we're always looking to iterate, and we're always reading the merchant feedback on the forums and things like that. And so we're looking forward towards improving the ability of the shopping cart to be able to help out in these different areas.

AuctionBytes: Do you have any timeframe for a shipping feature?

Prem Ramaswami: We don't share time frames externally, so I couldn't be able to share that with you right now

AuctionBytes: Okay. Google Checkout is excluded from the eBay platform. How significant is that, and are there any online marketplaces that do integrate with Google Checkout?

Prem Ramaswami: So as you know, with eBay, we've work closely with the eBay to drive consumers to their site and build value over many years. Regarding Google Checkout specifically, I can tell you that personally Google believes strongly in consumer choice, but I can't speak to what eBay or the company is doing in their sense.

AuctionBytes: Are there any other marketplaces that do integrate

Prem Ramaswami: I can tell you that we are available to hundreds of thousands merchants out there. I'm not sure if there are any specific marketplaces that I can speak of right now.

AuctionBytes: Okay. What is Google Checkout's biggest focus in the next 12 to 24 months?

Prem Ramaswami: Google Checkout's focus is kind of the same as it's been. For buyers and consumers we want to basically solve a lot of the problems and pains that are seen in day-to-day shopping online in ecommerce. We want to create the fastest, safest and most convenient shopping method for our buyers to use, and we want to increase ecommerce, because we strongly believe that increasing ecommerce increases the size of the pie for everybody out there.

In addition to that, for our merchants, we're really looking to iterate on the product and make it easier and easier to use for them also. For that, this includes everything from - recently we've released some features like moving tax in the UI. And the Google shopping cart that we just discussed in detail. Some of these features - the idea behind them is to make sure that the average user, the average merchant was able to point and click, that they should be able to easily use Google Checkout and be able to set up their own online store experience.

AuctionBytes: Thank you, Prem, for getting us up-to-date on Google Checkout. That was Prem Ramaswami, Associate Product Manager for Google Checkout. I'm Ina Steiner.

About the author:

Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

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