Google announced last week on their blog that they will begin to facilitate payments on Google Base in the near future. The blog post from Google pointed out that Google are already accepting payments on their video service as well as when users purchase software such as Google Earth and that this will be extended further in the near future. The latest updates to Google Base, which we have been able to take a good look at, is to compete directly with eBay by not only allowing sellers to post items to base, but also by facilitating the transaction through Google Payments (see this blog post on purchasing via Base from the Google Base team).
To see some items on Google Base that are accepting payments via Google go to base.google.com and search for either ‘xyzzy‘ for a list of items with payments enabled, or ‘magic unicorn beanie‘ for a particular item. The first thing you see is that a price has been set and you can see that the payment method that is accepted is ‘payment through google’. While ordinary users now won’t get an option to purchase these items, we managed to get some screenshots of how the process will look and work. The next set of screens show the items that had a big ‘buy’ button on them so that the user can purchase them:
The payments site currently redirects to your Google account details but upon public launch, and available on very few select accounts at the moment, the user will have the option to specify or update their credit card details as well as their delivery address details. This means that as a user of Google Payments you won’t need to re-enter this information when making a purchase on Base, or any of the other services from Google that will be taking advantage of the new system. In addition on your account page you will see a history of items that you have purchased and you will be able to check the delivery status of items being delivered, as well as information about the seller of items you have purchased.
Our understanding is that Google is currently testing this service further internally and are in talks to potential sellers on using Google Base and their new payment system to sell items. From the users point of view, it makes purchasing items on any Google property extremely simple. The checkout process is extremely quick and much faster than Paypal’s (page loading times are Google fast) – it also has a much nicer interface making it easier for a user to navigate their way through a checkout and purchase. Overall with Google Base and payments the experience for a user is much nicer than what it is on eBay, a very nice interface and many search features while maintaining the very minimal yet functional interface as expected from Google. I can see that they will be able to maintain this nice interface even as the inventory of items for sale gets much much bigger – their choice of using tags for items as opposed to categories makes it much easier to find items and to fine-tune search results.
What Google does lack at the moment, and something they are working on, is a reputation system so that you can authenticate who the seller is and how trustworthy they are. Building a good reputation system is a very big problem, one that eBay has yet to completely solve so it will be interesting to see what Google will do about this. I don’t know if launching without a reputation system is a good idea, their short-term solution may be to restrict sellers using their payment system to more trusted sources.
What we are seeing here from Google is a direct shot at eBay’s market, as well as other services such as Craigslist - though they have some way to get there. The new payments system means we should see many more services and offerings from Google in the future that cost money, it has made Google Base a lot more interesting and also started up a much needed additional source of revenue.