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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : March 23, 2009

Google Checkout rolls out subscription beta

Google Checkout has added a new feature that will allow merchants to charge buyers on a regular, recurring basis without the consumer having to do a thing.

by Helen Leggatt

In response to demand, Google has added a way to sell subscriptions via Google Checkout.

According to Google software engineer Andrew Cunningham, writing on the Checkout Blog, "if you're already comfortable building your own carts using Checkout, you're ready to implement Subscriptions by consulting the documentation. Each billing recurrence is a new order, so everything you've learned about processing orders still applies".

Cunningham then goes on to mention that there are two ways of using the subscriptions feature - "Google-handled Subscriptions" and "Merchant-handled Subscriptions". Russ Jones' article on has a nice summary of the two options.

With "Google-handled Subscriptions", the merchant defines the subscription and then leaves it to Google to take care of each recurring payment, Jones explains. This option is for merchants that charge the same amount each subscription period and who don't need the ability to adjust the amount each payment period, as might be the case in usage-based subscriptions or for merchants who want to experiment with joining-up offers and other acquisition activity.

For merchants who need that flexibility, there is the "Merchant-handled Subscriptions" option. This gives the merchant the ability to vary the subscription amount and period, yet carries with it the responsibility to trigger payments as Google does not automatically take care of them.

The introduction of the subscription feature comes just weeks before Google Checkout's fee structure changes and brings with it a rise in cost for users.

Tags: fee structure, flexibility, Google Checkout, Google-handled subscriptions, Merchant-handled subscriptions, merchants, subscription

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