Business

What does Google need with a same-day shipping service anyway?

I’ve decided we need a Rule 34 corollary for Google’s business habits: If your industry exists, Google’s going to find a way to go after it.

The latest development to prove this rule is Shopping Express, Google’s new same-day shipping service. Same-day shipping is the Holy Grail for online retailers like Amazon and Ebay, both of which are trying their hands at it — so it comes as little surprise that Google is going after it as well.

But it’s not immediately obvious what Google’s angle is here. What does Google really need a shipping service for? This is a company whose business is built on a search engine and ad sales, not selling you physical goods (well, mostly).

Here are a few angles on Google’s move:

Speed. If Google can get physical products to you as fast as it can deliver search results — well, it might have something lucrative on its hands.

The Amazon factor. As Tom Allason, the CEO of same-day shipping company Shutl argues, Google is threatened by Amazon because when people are shopping on Amazon (which they’re doing a lot of nowadays), Google is cut out of both the data and transaction.

“Google’s play is all about differentiating from Amazon, using the one thing that Amazon will never have — local stores. This provides the consumer with a compelling proposition that is not about price or range,” Allason said.

The data aspect here is important as well. Same-day shipping is as much a logistical problem as it is a physical one. With Shopping Express, Google can learn a lot about what you’re buying and how long it takes to get it to you. This is bigger than just getting a package from point A to point B.

Google Year 2020. Hell, we could even posit that the Google of the future could combine same-day shipping with self-driving delivery trucks. That sounds crazy, but this is Google we’re talking about. This company has mapped the moon.

Really, the most telling thing about Google Shopping Express is how unfazed we all seem by it. Google is stretching its tendrils into every market these days, and it’s become increasingly unsurprising.


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