Google Inc. is delving deeper into the rapidly growing area of Internet shopping.
This story first appeared in the December 2, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Web search giant is reportedly talking to major retailers and shipping services about creating a platform that would allow consumers to shop across a variety of storefronts. Payment and fulfilment would be speedy with Google Wallet, technology launched in March that allows consumers to buy items with a single tap. Macy’s, which partnered with Google Wallet to enhance its in-store shopping experience, has been cited as one of the retailers Google is targeting. Macy’s could not be reached for comment. Another potential partner, Gap, said it had no comment.
Analysts said Google may be taking aim at Amazon.com, which sells all types of products and ships them to consumers’ homes.
Henry Kim, co-founder of sneakpeeq.com, said, “Everyone’s trying to get into online shopping, especially with Cyber Monday breaking all kinds of records.”
He questioned the logic of big retailers such as Macy’s participating in a Google shopping site when they already have destination sites of their own. “If Google is doing something on the personalization side, it may be worth it,” Kim said. “If they were able to keep track of people’s preferences and suggest products to them, that would be interesting.”
Google, Kim said, is “probably one of the most innovative companies in Silicon Valley. They’re working on different ways to get into shopping. Last year, Google purchased, specifically for shopping, Like.com, an image-based search engine. [Shopping] is something they’re focused on. Google has offers similar to Groupon, so they’re trying to make inroads in the e-commerce area.”
“Retailers will use the Google platform to navigate and fulfill more quickly,” said Janet Kloppenburg, founder of JJK Research. “Amazon allows you to shop different product categories under one roof. If you’re a regular Amazon customer, you have a couple clicks and you’re done. So instead of shopping at Macy’s and Home Depot, it would allow me to shop and speed through different brands and businesses.
“Google probably wants storefronts like Macy’s that would pay for the privilege of leveraging off [Google’s] technology and huge base of consumers,” Kloppenburg added. “Google would introduce Macy’s to additional domestic customers while tapping into an international audience. Google has access to consumers all over the world.”
Consumers could save money by using a technical platform such as Google, which could charge a flat shipping rate for top customers, as Amazon does with its $79-a-year Amazon Prime program.
WSJ.com on Thursday reported that Google may be gearing up for e-commerce.