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What is Google Express?

October 27, 2017
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There’s been a lot of buzz lately on all the recent changes and additions to Google Express, formerly known as Google Shopping Express. Deemed Google’s response to Amazon, it originally launched in March of 2013 in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Today, the platform has received a number of updates to drive usage and has evolved to include large retailers such as Walmart, Costco, Target and Bed Bath & Beyond and will look to add others such as Home Depot in 2017.

Let’s look at some of the recent updates to this platform that are making waves.

The Evolution Of Google Express

To better understand the trajectory of Google Express, let’s dive into its origins. Back in March of 2013, the service launched on a free trial basis. Originally, it was a same-day service but it later offered overnight delivery. The service was only offered in San Francisco and Silicon Valley and it included a mix of national and local stores.

In May of 2014 it was expanded to New York and West Los Angeles and other cities followed shortly thereafter [3]. Free trials were only offered to testers and for the first six months after sign up. The Google Express membership program ($10 for monthly members and $95 for annual members) was removed in August of 2017.

The service now has a plethora of big box brands and smaller retail partners. Its available across the continental United States and you get free delivery if you meet the per-store minimums ($25 or $35 for most stores). In most cases delivery times range from same-day to 3-day delivery.

Implications Of The Wal-Mart – Google Partnership

Last month, Wal-Mart and Google announced a partnership that will allow Google Express shoppers to access Wal-Mart’s massive inventory. Starting in September, Google’s commerce platform, Google Express, will count America’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, among its list of vendors [4].

Whether this new partnership ultimately pays off remains to be seen, but it’s a good first attempt to try to compete with Amazon’s massive market share. A recent analysis by Slice Intelligence found that 43% of all online retail sales in the US went through Amazon in 2016, as the e-commerce giant’s market share continues to grow. According to the study, which analyzed more than 4 million online purchases, Amazon accounted for the majority (53%) of the growth in US e-commerce sales for the year [2].

With this bold new move, Google will gain access to Wal-Mart shopper’s purchase history, opening doors for personalization. As we all know, Amazon has dominated the personalized shopping space for years so Google definitely has their work cut out for them.

Another key implication is the new partnership will offer voice ordering for groceries starting next year. This helps Wal-Mart maintain its leadership in grocery sales which accounts for 56% of all its retail revenue. Innovation is important here as Amazon has been taking big steps into the grocery business with its recent acquisition of Whole Foods.

The Future Of Voice?

Perhaps the most significant upgrade to the platform is its integration with Google Home which gives you the power to shop, order and purchase using only your voice. Commands like “Ok Google, order paper towels” will have Home list off matching products and their prices. Saying “yes” will place the order with Assistant providing a confirmation. “No” will list more suggestions and saying it twice results in that item being added to your shopping list for future purchase [1].

Why is this significant? According to a Google study conducted by Northstar Research, over half of U.S. teens and 41% of U.S. adults use voice search on a daily basis, with its use continuing to grow every day.


[1] – 9to5Google.com https://9to5google.com/2017/02/16/google-home-express-purchases-retailers/

[2] – Businessinsider.com http://www.businessinsider.com/amazon-accounts-for-43-of-us-online-retail-sales-2017-2

[3] Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Express

[4] Businessinsider.com http://www.businessinsider.com/walmart-and-google-voice-shopping-on-google-express-2017-8

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