3 MINUTE READ | August 25, 2017
Walmart and Google Partner Up Against Amazon
Walmart and Google have announced a new partnership with some interesting implications for the industry and some potential opportunities for brands to consider.
First, Walmart is jumping into Google Express, Google’s home delivery service, with the most product offerings of any brand. Additionally, Walmart’s customer data will be accessible through Google so that interactions will be customized to their personal order history. Lastly, the announcement hinted that there would be “more to come” from the partnership.
Google Express is a fairly new Google product that launched on a small scale in 2013 in San Francisco. It is part of the Purchases on Google program, which Google is hoping to expand to more and more brands. Brands in the program can sell directly through Google, with no need to stop at the brand’s site. If Instagram ads are any indication, Google may be pushing Express more soon.
Google is trying to catch back up in – surprisingly – the search space. Google, of course, dominates when compared with other search engines (92% globally according to StatCounter), but not when you include Amazon. For product searches, Amazon surpassed Google 3 years ago and is now zooming past with 56% of all searches. Google realizes the importance that advertisers place product search as it’s usually a good bet someone looking for a “20-inch reel lawn mower” is interested in buying a 20-inch reel lawn mower. Google is hoping that growing a 1 stop marketplace of their own will stem the tide. And Walmart doesn’t want Amazon to have a monopoly on these either.
Walmart would love people to buy at Walmart’s site or app directly, though it’s easier said than done. As the unchallenged digital marketplace, Amazon gives manufacturers another place to take their goods, gets the lion’s share of revenue of the expanding digital market, and is creeping into Walmart’s brick and mortar space.
One of the reasons for these moves is conversational commerce – placing orders with voice search. According to Walmart, “we’ll be working with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items for voice shopping via Google Assistant.” This will mean Google Home (their version of Amazon Echo – another area Amazon is dominating) and anyone with an Android mobile phone or Google’s mobile app.
Voice search orders are very small in comparison to the overall digital sales, but it may not be forever. According to Amazon, 30% of Echo owners order weekly.
Placing orders via voice can be cumbersome, but it’s much easier if your order history is available. Walmart customers will be able to reorder previous items, and Google will know which brands you prefer. This would mirror what Amazon in terms of voice search capabilities. Soon Amazon will know what you like to buy at Whole Foods, as well as Amazon, a direct concern for Walmart.
But these moves may be “too little, too late” to slow down Amazon. Walmart and Google do combine for an enormous global user base, on and offline, and between them, they have huge product distribution and computing capabilities, which may make things interesting down the road.
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For most brands, it makes sense to make sure that their products are easily found and purchased through both Amazon and Google. Integrating tightly with those companies will likely mean being found on that final point where sales happen in any form.
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