Auction-Based Merchandising

Google Express: A Viable Alternative to Amazon for Consumers and Retailers

For those that have been focusing on Amazon strategy and marveling at the consumer favorite, or in my case for those living outside the United States, you may have missed the interest and steady growth in Google’s ecommerce efforts called “Google Express”. However, Google Express provides a viable alternative for both retailers and consumers, who believe the convenience of Amazon cannot be beaten.

Google Express is Google’s delivery service for products from established brick and mortar stores, often on the same day. Unlike Amazon and Amazon Prime now, it does not fulfill product in scarily efficient fulfillment centers. Instead it aims to fulfill product from inventory readily available in brick and mortar stores. More often than not, it delivers product to consumers faster than the brick and mortar store can. These are not mom and pop stores, or boutique stores. They have an impressive roster, of national stores like Costco, Walgreens, Kohl’s, Target and Petsmart.

So, why are we talking about this now, you may ask?

Launched in late 2013, Google Express is just now covering 90% + of the US and is a serious alternative to Amazon Prime for consumers. Last month, they dropped the annual membership cost (it was $95 a year, similar to Amazon Prime’s $99) and announced a partnership with WalMart  that allows for same-day fulfilment through Google Assistant, further expanding their distribution potential.

There are four primary reasons why Google Express is a viable alternative for retailers to consider.

  1. Logistical Expertise. Brick and mortar stores can tap into a logistical delivery system that will be something to rival Amazon’s. The logistical onus is on Google and it in turn has impressive resources to concentrate on this.

  2. Simple & Faster Payment Methods. The Google Buy button is an integral part of Google express, and consumers already have their payment method stored with Google.

  3. Logistical Control (Returns & Consumer Data). Brands can retain control of the consumer when working with Google Express.

  4. Quicker Route to Selling on Voice Search. With the power of Google Home behind this product, avenues to selling product via voice are likely much faster than individual retailers would be able to achieve.

Google Express Example  

Photo Credit: Google

Advertising Opportunities with Google Express

The only advertising opportunity today revolves around the Google Buy Button. Once a retailer has this enabled, advertisements like Product Listing Ads will have a banner saying “Buy on Google”. This will attract the eye of the consumer as well as provide a seamless buying experience, using their card details saved by Google. Beyond that, the advertising opportunities have yet to be revealed. Be assured though, it is only a matter of time before Google creates opportunities for brands.

Impact to Amazon

It is doubtful that this will have any tangible slow down on Amazon. In the short-term, Amazon can still deliver product within an hour, whereas Google is aiming for same day. Amazon Prime also carries a huge amount of variety and choice in core categories, that are likely to need speedy delivery (like Children’s toys). While Amazon Prime Now’s choice is limited, it will grow as it has been adding new lines every week since its launch.

In addition, Amazon is heavily investing in making sure shopping can be done by voice as well as by screen. While Google Express does have the ability to add items via Google home, it’s not at the same level of advancement as the Alexa and the Amazon shopping experience.

Next Steps for Retailers

Integration with Purchases on Google is the critical piece that an advertiser must adopt in order to be active on Google Express. Though technically challenging, the Google team has evolved considerably in technical support for this product. Be prepared to spend at least 30 days onboarding this.

Google Express representatives are likely to be in discussion with relevant retail teams already on this. However, if you need a contact on the Google Express team, please feel free to reach out to iProspect.