Google wants to help you monetize your website. In Google Labs now is The Google Checkout store gadget , which lets you imbed a spreadsheet driven widget on your site to sell whatever you are selling. That includes digital goods, though for now Google lacks the sophistication of sites like E-Junkie .
As you'd expect, this is pretty much cookie-cutter, one size fits all. However, it certainly lowers the skills requirements for creating an on-line store. Unfortunately, that ease of use presently comes with a major problem: it doesn't work with digitally signed (encrypted) carts, so you can't be sure that someone hasn't jiggered your books to pay you less than you wanted. That makes it useless for automated shipping/downloads - though admittedly the budding web entrepreneur likely to make use of this probably isn't going to implement that sort of fulfillment anyway.
I like Google checkout. I use it as an option (with signed carts) for my e-book sales. Unlike Paypal, Google checkout payments go to my bank account automatically - I don't have to do anything to transfer the money. On the other hand, their fees are a little higher than PayPal. It's not enough to fret over, though.
Another potential hesitation point is that your spreadsheet has to be shared publicly. What a convenient way for your competitors to get a neatly formatted list of your products! Of course, with only a little more work, they can get that from your store anyway.
Those with a more suspicious nature might notice that it's also a convenient way for Google to get a nicely formatted price list from everyone who chose to use it - price comparisons, anyone?
This is all driven by Google's Data APIs for spreadsheets, so if you are of a technical mind (which probably covers a lot of readers here), you could easily do something similar and perhaps eliminate some of the promiscuous and trusting nature of this while retaining the ease of use and convenience.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2011-03-13 Anthony Lawrence