Retailers Not Buying Google Checkout

Written by Evan Schuman
August 21st, 2006

They might be humming “I Don’t Like Mondays” at Google headquarters today, as Wall Street sent the search giant disappointing news on a few fronts.

Wall Street analyst firm Piper Jaffray released a survey Monday morning that Google Checkout is not winning over a lot of retailers, mostly because those retailers don’t want to surrender that much customer information to Google. This follows a MarketWatch report that had officially abandoned Google Checkout.

In an apparently unreleated move, Web traffic analysis firm Comscore Networks released a report showing that “Google?s share declined 1 percent from the previous month [June], ending its impressive 11-month run of consecutive gains.” That news sent Google shares down, losing 1.58 percent of its value by mid-day. That report prompted Bear Stearns analyst Robert Peck to send a client note that “We think (the) loss in domestic market share could signal a topping point,” for Google.

The Piper Jaffray report was based on surveys the firm conducted at the 15th Annual eTail Conference in Philadelphia last week along with another survey conducted by phone. “Our discussions with more than 40 online retailers who have either evaluated Google Checkout or are currently using Checkout indicate that the widespread adoption of Checkout will be gradual as Google must address the operational and strategic issues that have arisen since the launch of Google Checkout,” the report said.

The survey’s specifics offer both good news and bad news for Google. On the down side, Pipe Jaffray tallied that 81 percent of online retailers “probably will not implement Google Checkout primarily due to the concerns about ceding customer ownership to Google.” A much smaller percentage (10 percent) went further, saying ” indicated that Google Checkout would provide Google with too much visibility into their business especially with regard to Google search related conversion rates. Online retailers also expressed concern about disintermediation in the transaction process. Google needs to enhance Google Checkout’s support infrastructure.”

On the plus side, the surveys founr e-tailers using Google Checkout that ” are experiencing incremental click through rates and some experienced better conversions. Online retailers are pleased with the transaction processing cost savings. Online retailers are encouraged by the intangible benefits of association with the Google brand.”

The survey’s analysis ended up being supportive, but for the long-term only. “Overall, we believe Google Checkout is an important strategic initiative for Google as it may increase click through rates, improve e-commerce conversion rates and deepen the strategic nature of Google’s relationship with advertisers,” the report said. “Given the strategic ambition of Google Checkout, we believe that it is inevitable that Google Checkout adoption will be gradual and there will be operational issues and growing pains to overcome.”

The analyst who wrote that report?Piper Jaffray senior research analyst Safa Rashtchy?said he thinks merchants will likely come around when they realize that “getting higher conversion rates, in the end, is worth it.”

More specifically, Rashtchy said, he thinks small- and mid-sized merchants will come around because Google will add so much value to the process. The larger retailers will be much more resistant to sharing so much data with Google because they don’t know whether Google will wind up competing against them in two years.

But he thinks even the larger retailers will likely come around if enough small and mid-sized merchants gives Google Checkout sufficient marketshare. “That may put pressure on the larger merchants to adopt Google Checkout,” he said.


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