People can create an online store in "a matter of minutes" with a new gadget application that uses Google's Checkout electronic payment service and its Docs spreadsheet application, Google announced Friday.
To use the new application, users are required to sign up for a Google Checkout seller account and use a Docs spreadsheet to list the store's inventory, wrote Anjali Vaidya, a Google associate product marketing manager, in the blog post.
However, Google has released the product with the Labs label, which means it is an early stage prototype, and as such it can change significantly, become temporarily unavailable and even disappear forever without prior notice.
"The projects in Labs are intended to showcase some of our cool and wacky ideas but are not intended to be full-blown Google products. Labs experiments may be unavailable or be even removed without notice and you may not be able to access any of your data. We recommend that you not use sensitive information in a Labs experiment," reads the Google Labs FAQ.
Still, it would appear that this gadget by definition will be used to handle sensitive information, such as online transactions, credit-card numbers, customer shipping information and inventory data.
Google spokeswoman Rachel Nearnberg said sensitive transaction data is stored and processed in Google Checkout, not in the store gadget, and that the inventory data remains in a Docs spreadsheet.
"The gadget is just a new and easy way to create a simple front-end interface for users," she said via e-mail.
If the store gadget were to be discontinued, merchants would retain the data in Docs and Checkout, although they would still be left without their online store.
"We're looking forward to getting merchants' feedback on the store gadget, so we can continue to improve it for them and their customers. That's why we released it in Google Labs," Nearnberg said.