For a long time, folks have suspected Google would formally enter the retail and ecommerce space in a big way. They begun with the Google Merchant Center, introduced in 2009. They also have reminded people that despite the onset of the era of social, people still shop online with the search box.
However, similar to Ebay, they never competed directly with retailers and in essence, their core advertising customers – the mass merchandisers and specialty retailers who spend millions each year on the search engine.
What’s changed? Google Shopping Express, an engineer’s approach to the daily shop. The service has ramped up this year and is rolling out to more and more cities:
And in more and more categories:
Current competitors in the space, aside from retailer’s own delivery services, include Ebay Now plus the likes of Instacart and Boxed. What marks Google out from these startups is sheer resource; it’s clear they can scale much faster and reach more consumers.
They also have the treasury to finance what must be considered a risky venture with uncertain economics – just Google Webvan and read about the logistical nightmare of ‘the last mile’ and so-on.
Overall however, it can be argued that this is great news for consumers and what will be interesting to watch is the innovation. Clearly, the battle with retail delivery is won on service and convenience; how friendly and efficient are those army of ‘shoppers’ and how slick the user experience is.
Amazon still has a firm grip on the mindset (and wallet) of the average consumer in ecommerce; could Google or perhaps a challenger like Instacart change this? What’s your thoughts on retail delivery services?