Can Google’s might stand up to Amazon’s shopping power?Image: Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesBy Rachel Kraus2018-03-19 15:40:27 UTC
In the great retail war of our time that pits Amazon against every other major retailer, a new shopping initiative from Google could tip the scales back in favor of big box stores.
On Monday, Google announced a new program called Shopping Actions. Under the initiative, when Google users search with the phrase “Where can I buy ,” Google will serve product listings from mega-retailers including Walmart, Target, Costco, and more. Customers can either directly buy these products from the stores’ websites, or put them in their Google Express shopping carts.
So what’s in it for Google? Google will actually get a cut of purchases made with Shopping Actions from partner retailers. But that’s not all.
According to Reuters, Google found that many of users’ shopping search queries resulted in purchases on Amazon. So this initiative not only results in dollars for Google — it also takes purchases away from shopping competitor Amazon.
That’s good news for retailers like Walmart, too. Walmart and Amazon have been going head to head, particularly as Amazon Fresh threatens Walmart’s grocery business. In August 2017, Google and Walmart teamed up to make Walmart products available in its Google Express shopping cart. Now, with ‘Shopping Actions,’ the strengthened alliance of Walmart with Google is one that actually could take on the might that is the Bezos empire.
A Google search for “rubber duck” serves an Amazon link as the third result. But a shopping carousel on the right provides links to buy from big box retailers.
Changing the query to “where can I buy” doesn’t serve any Amazon results.Shopping Actions was reportedly also created to optimize for Google Home Assistant. Reuters calls voice search on smart home devices “the next frontier for e-commerce.” With Alexa sending shoppers to Amazon, Google Home Assistant will place search queries into a Google Express Shopping cart. The cart, filled with products from Walmart or Target, provides the same sort of “unifying experience” that Amazon does, with goods fulfilled with Shopping Express partners.
Google becoming BFFs with Walmart may be a scary thought for those who fear the expanding reach and dominance of conglomerates. But with the increasing presence of Amazon in people’s lives from Alexa interactions to Whole Foods shopping trips, you didn’t expect Google and Walmart to take this lying down, did you?