eBay Watch: eBay Bans Google Checkout

Not surprisingly, eBay isn't eager to embrace Google's new online payment system. Plus: Is eBay Express good for sellers?

It wasn't good news for eBay when Google recently launched its Google Checkout service. Google's new online payment system doesn't compete directly with eBay's Paypal. But who wants to take on Google at all?

So it's no surprise that eBay amended its rules this week to ban sellers from using Google Checkout. You can see Google listed in the "not permitted" list in eBay's Accepted Payments Policy by clicking on "Some Examples."

It's a little humorous to see the awesome Google listed in the banned providers list along with the likes of payingfast.com, eHotPay.com, EuroGiro, and scripophily.com.

According to eBay's Payments Policy, a payment service must have "a substantial historical track record of providing safe and reliable financial" services. And since Google Checkout is brand new, apparently it can't be trusted.

Of course, Google has accepted online payments for years through its AdWords program. And c'mon, Google isn't a fly-by-night operation.

"Google Checkout is a week old," eBay spokeswoman Catherine England told E-Commerce Guide, "and there isn't a lot of clarity into how people will use it. Until it's a bit more proven, it's going to stay on that list."

England notes that eBay is "evaluating the service specifically, not the company behind it."

eBay's prohibition of Google Checkout extends to sellers who use customized checkout systems like those built by ChannelAdvisor and Marketworks, two multi-channel management services.

Scott Wingo, CEO of ChannelAdvisor, sees a certain contradiction in eBay's decision to ban Google Checkout.

"The challenge is that they've tried to embrace what their sellers want recently, and we've found that sellers are interested in this new way of selling [Google Checkout]." Google Checkout's attraction, he says, is that it's more than a credit card gateway, it provides discounts for AdWord buys. However, "It's almost like eBay is saying, 'sometimes we want you to think about multi-channel selling, but not when it involves Google Checkout.'"

Is eBay Express Good for Sellers?

There are millions of online shoppers who have no desire to shop on eBay — and eBay knows it.

Some of these shoppers are impatient. They don't want to watch an auction for a week, they want to purchase now. Other shoppers don't want to sift through offerings from hundreds of home-based sellers for each purchase. It's too much work.

It was with these shoppers in mind that eBay started eBay Express. Launched in preview mode in April and formally unveiled in mid June, Express offers simple, one-price shopping on all its items.

It has a clean, elegant user interface, unlike eBay's funky-looking pages full of user-created titles and images. Shoppers can fill their shopping cart and checkout - quickly and seamlessly - just like at any big e-commerce site.

Industry watchers say the auction giant has been missing out on a legion of shoppers who prefer simpler, faster transactions. Wall Street expects eBay's revenue to grow at a hefty clip every year, and Express will aid that effort.

So Express is good for eBay. But is Express good for eBay sellers?

Generally, the answer seems to be yes - but a qualified yes.

eBay only allows those sellers who meet certain requirements to list on Express. Sellers much have a feedback score of 100, with a minimum of 98 percent positive, and must list in the Fixed Price or Store Inventory format.

For these sellers, Express opens up a larger and more lucrative market.

Yet some eBay sellers - certainly a minority - say their sales have slowed down, and they point to Express as a culprit.

"There's this urban myth that got started on one of the PowerSeller boards," says ChannelAdvisor's Wingo. It goes like this: "Since Express displays your eBay Store listing with a 'different flavor' [from your regular eBay listing], Google's search engine would get confused and choose one of the flavors. So, the theory goes, being in Express would lower your natural traffic."

However, "I personally haven't found any evidence of that," he says. Indeed, it is eBay's own internal search engine that directs most of the traffic to listings - not Google - and this internal search engine seems to show no preference for Express.

The eBay Workshop Series

There's a booming cottage industry in "how to" eBay instruction. A new book about how to sell on eBay seems to come out every other week. But arguably some of the best instruction comes from eBay itself, in its ongoing Member Workshops series, hosted online.

On July 7th, for example, the topic is "Use Market Research to Craft an Unbeatable Auction." Three experts will cover how to use past buying trends to choose the best time of day to post, what promotions to use, and how long to list your auction.

These workshops are hosted in discussion threads on the Workshops Board. If you can't make the original session, you can see it later at the list of archived workshops.

The list of upcoming topics includes "Listing Template Design & Layout" (July 10), "Grow Your eBay Business on Express (July 13), and "Learn to Use Blackthorne Pro" (July 20).

James Maguire is a regular contributor to ECommerce-Guide.com.

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