osCommerce, Subscription Aid in Google Checkout

Google Checkout is now easier to install on the open-source platform osCommerce and supports subscription-based payments after the search company introduced new updates its online payment processing application.

“We’ve completely reworked the installation process by no longer requiring users to manually copy and paste large swaths of PHP code into their files. Instead, we’ve created an automated deployment app that does this for you by looking for the appropriate PHP insertion points and adding the code where it’s needed,” Ed Davisson, a Google software engineer, wrote on the Checkout blog.

The upgrade is designed to ease concerns about lines of PHP code getting copied in the wrong place. Additionally, configuration is now easier, Davisson said, because the most important fields are grouped together for easier access, with the rest having been moved to a detailed control panel.

“At Google Checkout, we’re constantly striving to improve our usability,” he said. “That’s why we’ve recently made Checkout’s installation and configuration much easier on the popular open-source commerce platform osCommerce.”

The upgrade will primarily help online merchants just starting out, said Kerry Watson, an e-commerce consultant and author of 14 books on osCommerce.

“Google’s announcement is good news for would-be online merchants who want to run an osCommerce online store with Google Checkout, and who have an unmodified fresh install of osCommerce,” Watson said. “These lucky few can set up Google Checkout by using a Wizard-like interface to enter long paths and strings of numbers called ‘transaction keys’ into form boxes instead of manual coding.”

Users who have modified will still have to hard-code Google Checkout by copying “about a dozen new PHP files and then hand-editing their store files in about nine places,” she added.

In other Checkout news, online sellers now have the ability to sell products and services that require recurring billing using Google’s API.

“One of our most requested features is a way to sell subscriptions through Google Checkout, and we’re pleased to announce that this functionality is now available on our Beta Features page,” Andrew Cunningham, a Google software engineer, said at the Checkout blog.

E-commerce site owners who are comfortable building their own carts using Checkout, can now implement subscriptions by following documentation provided by Google.

“Each billing recurrence is a new order, so everything you’ve learned about processing orders still applies. You can let us create these billing recurrences for you with Google-Handled Subscriptions, or if you’d like more control, you can create these recurrences yourself with Merchant-Handled Subscriptions,” Cunningham said.

Google’s Checkout announcements come on the heels of a recent price hike — effective May 5, Checkout is moving to a tiered fee structure and is eliminating its AdWords discounts for sellers – that’s good news for PayPal, which now offers more merchant services for about the same cost, and just mapped out an agenda to double its revenue by 2011.

The Checkout upgrade is a minor addition to the slew of recent developments beyond the search behemoth’s core business, including a new Internet phone service, Google Voice, the introduction of ads on its hosted news sites, behavioral advertising, and the funding of research grants aimed at maximizing online ad performance.

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