If you’ve got an Amazon Prime account, you know there’s a lot that $79 a year gets you. Access to a library of stream movies and TV shows, e-books that can be downloaded to your Kindle, and free two-day shipping on a hefty portion of the stuff Amazon sells. Now, according to a new rumor, Google is planning to launch a competing service that’ll cost a little less money -- maybe just $64 a year.
TechCrunch’s Alexia Tsotsis reports that “Google Shopping Express” is in development, and is being built to serve as a “focal point” for the company’s existing Google Wallet and Google Shopping services. Put simply, Google is already the first place many people go when they’re researching a product -- and Google Shopping Express could be a way for the company to get a piece of the action when people do decide to buy. TechCrunch also notes that the service would do Amazon Prime one better in an important regard: it would offer same-day delivery from big retailers such as Target, Safeway, and Walmart.
This rumor should be taken with a grain of salt, of course, but it’s not far-fetched to imagine that Google would want to increase its e-commerce presence. And the rumor is reasonably detailed: TechCrunch says Tom Fallows, one of Google’s e-commerce managers, is heading up the project and that Google employees are already “dogfooding” the service (testing it by using it for their own needs).
It’s also worth mentioning that Google recently acquired two e-commerce companies: Bufferbox, a package-delivery service, and Channel Intelligence, a product-referral business. Bufferbox, which is based in Ontario, Canada, bills itself as a kind of parcel delivery alternative. Since lots of people aren’t home to sign for packages, the company says, they can ship them to nearby pickup stations instead. The acquisition certainly gives Google the beginnings of a service that can ship things quickly, although BufferBox is geographically limited right now.
Channel Intelligence, on the other hand, is focused on the online side of things -- providing e-commerce software and services to make it easier for merchants to sell their products online. This includes a “where-to-buy” feature that lets online shoppers know whether a brick-and-mortar store has the product they’re looking for in stock.
This may be a side project, of course -- there’s no guarantee Google will unveil Shopping Express anytime soon (or even at all). But taken together, the rumor and the company’s recent acquisitions seem to suggest that Google is looking at ways to step up its commerce game.
Readers, what’s your take? Does the idea of Google getting into the retail business seem far-fetched? Would you use Shopping Express? Let us know in the comments section below.