With online retail shopping growing every year, it’s no surprise that practically everyone wants in. Web-based companies are falling over themselves providing recommendation engines, web storefronts, payment systems, and backend management.
Google is in most of those fields already, but it’s probable that they feel somewhat frustrated at being unable to siphon users away from major retailers like Amazon. So many searches lead right there, but Google is unable to monetize what are clearly purchase-oriented users.
It’s not a new situation, of course: if you want to find stuff, you use Google. If you want to get stuff, you use Amazon. But Google has increasingly been placing itself in the getting stuff business, and may soon expand into real goods, by way of partnerships with retailers and shipping providers.
The Wall Street Journal managed to get Macy’s on the record saying Google has approached them regarding such a partnership. It would expedite the shipment of purchases made through Google’s shopping and search tools and leverage some existing tech used to track availability. Other stores probed by the WSJ as probable collaborators, Gap and OfficeMax, had no comment — nor did Google.
It would definitely be a risky move. While millions use Google to shop, very few ever think of Google as a way of doing anything but finding things. Many would be suspicious of a “Buy and ship instantly” button or whatever the suggested use case is. But Google is in a powerful position, since it is likely aware of both searchers’ locations and the locations of the nearest product. How Google will insert itself into a Macy’s purchase without seeming out of place is a serious question, though.
It is suggested that there would be a focus on same-day delivery, but that seems like a stretch. Some readers may remember Kozmo.com’s quixotic quest for instant gratification. Not only would it be a logistical nightmare, but it would be monstrously expensive. The best case scenario is Google working with retailers to streamline inventorying and delivery, and perhaps soaking up some of the cost required to do next-day delivery for a lowered price.
Considering Google is still putting out feelers to companies like Macy’s, the project is likely still in quite an early phase, so there’s probably no impending announcement, and certainly not before the holidays.