By Sarah Perez
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is today announcing mobile support for its Google Wallet checkout service, which expanded to include micropayments for web content earlier this month. At that time, Google said it would allow online shoppers to purchase premium digital content -- ideally priced under $1.00 -- which also included a 30-minute money-back refund. Today, Google is expanding its service yet again to an area that makes even more sense: mobile shopping.
It’s fair to say that Google Wallet hasn’t really gained traction in terms of being an NFC-enabled service for making mobile payments at point-of-sale out in the real world, but frankly, no digital wallet provider has won the mobile payments battle yet. That’s why it’s notable that Google Wallet is now expanding its focus in order to become a more comprehensive digital payments platform that could rival incumbents in this space – like PayPal, for example.
With today’s update, Google says that Google Wallet now supports mobile e-commerce websites that have adopted Google Wallet as a checkout option. Indeed, this is an area that’s still a major pain point for many online retailers. All too often, checkout functionality on mobile isn’t optimized for the small screen, or sometimes, the pages themselves are mobile-friendly in terms of their design, but the checkout process still steps users through so many form fields that the process becomes time-consuming and cumbersome for small keyboards and touchscreens. Google says that currently, 97% of mobile shoppers abandon their carts for this very reason.
Now Google Wallet offers an alternative. On sites supporting Google Wallet, users can just click the “Buy with Google Wallet” button, login to their Google account, and complete the order. OK, it’s a few more taps than one (it’s three), but Amazon’s got that patent, right? If anything, the experience Google describes sounds the most like PayPal’s Express Checkout option for merchants.
To use Google’s service on the mobile web, you will first have to set up your account with Google, add your credit and debit cards, enter in your billing and shipping address details, and other payment information. You can also set up a default card for future purchases, so you don’t have to pick which card to use at checkout.
Launch partners for Google Wallet on the mobile web include 1-800-Flowers.com, Rockport.com, and FiveGuys.com (at select locations). Others in the works are Finish Line, MovieTickets.com, Seamless, and SwimOutlet.com. To get started, users can create an account here.
Also worth noting: in late October, several tech bloggers discovered that Google Wallet was teasing the “next version” of the service on its homepage, which included a sign-up form asking if users owned an Android, iPhone, or other device. That same messaging appears today on the Google Wallet homepage. But that being said, it makes sense that as Google shifts Google Wallet’s focus from being an Android-only service for NFC payments (it works on Sprint, Virgin Mobile, and more recently MetroPCS phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Nexus, LG Viper, LG Optimus Elite, and HTC EVO 4G), Google may consider how to better address the needs of iOS users in this space. For example, an obvious next step would be for Google to launch a complementary iOS app for the setup, monitoring and management of users’ Google Wallet account to spur increased mobile adoption outside of the Android ecosystem.