Posts Tagged 'Google'

And now, a Google/Walmart tie-up

To expand on my last post (about Kohl’s and Amazon), now comes word of a stronger alliance between Walmart and Google. Here’s my comment from RetailWire, in which I comment that each company brings specific strengths and weaknesses to the partnership:

When the majority of product searches start at Amazon, that’s a huge advantage — it combines the predictive intelligence of an SEO company with the execution skill of a best-in-class e-tailer. But is Amazon invulnerable? Of course not, and that’s part of the reason why the company is filling in its portfolio with brick-and-mortar acquisitions (Whole Foods) or alliances (Kohl’s).

So an expanded partnership between Walmart and Google has potential: It provides Walmart with more robust search capacity and web traffic, and it offers Google a stronger e-commerce platform. But unless Walmart adds more second-party retailers (and their goods) to its site, it’s not going to catch up to Amazon’s head start for awhile.


“Voice assistants” riding a wave

Two recent RetailWire posts address the growth of Amazon and competing voice recognition devices — with Amazon’s Echo being the most popular:

Anything that makes the Amazon shopping experience even more seamless is a market share opportunity. As the panel discussed recently, it’s no wonder that several national retailers are aligning with Google’s voice assistant instead.

Retailers probably have their own opportunities to apply voice recognition technology to their own mobile apps. (Maybe this has already happened.) Voice activation seems to be the next “smart” thing, so it’s a win for whoever gets there fastest.

The second post concerns the national retailers who are aligning with Google, not Amazon:

If this works, it’s an opportunity for Google to play catch-up on the head start that Amazon has established with Echo, and to establish a stronger beachhead on the “device” front. But it’s also an opportunity — or attempt — for several retailers to marginalize Amazon’s e-commerce business that has eaten into their own market share.

Google home delivery grocery partnership with Costco and Whole Foods?

Google recently announced a test of grocery home delivery, partnering with both Costco and Whole Foods in selected markets. This move makes sense to me, as I expressed in a recent RetailWire post:

As the giants of the grocery and e-commerce business (Amazon, Walmart and now Google) enter the fray, the losers over the long haul may be the companies like Peapod who originated the home delivery business. It’s also noteworthy that the two stores partnering with Google have a “destination” (rather than saturation) location strategy where they tend to draw from a wide geographic area. This allows both Costco and Whole Foods to gain share in households not willing to drive 20 miles out of the way to shop in their brick-and-mortar locations.

Review sites: Retailers, ignore at your peril

From a recent RetailWire discussion about review sites, the topic centered on whether retailers (as opposed to service providers) will be impacted by online postings at sites like Yelp, Google+ and so forth. Here’s my comment on the subject:

It’s hard to ignore the impact of review sites (Yelp, TripAdvisor and others) on consumer preferences for hotels, restaurants and other service providers. And virtually every business that you can find on Google Maps has Zagat or other user ratings attached to it. This may be a relatively new phenomenon for traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores, but they had better be prepared for it because the growth and impact of these sites will be dramatic in the next few years.

The iPhone 5: Another winner, or hampered by short supply?

RetailWire panelists weighed in a few days after the launch of the iPhone 5, especially to discuss the limited supply offered to Apple’s retail partners. My take:

My neighborhood Best Buy store has no idea when it will be receiving more supplies of the iPhone 5 and I’m not sure whether it received any in the first place. (On the other hand, my college-age daughter stood in line for 10 minutes at her local Apple Store on Friday and bought her new phone.) The “short supply” tactic seems to work every time for Apple by whipping demand into a frenzy — but, curiously, some of the evidence suggests that sales were not quite as high as expected. Hard to tell whether this is an outcome of how Apple seems to treat its retail partners or whether they were truly caught flat-footed by demand. And it will also be interesting to see whether the “Google Maps” backlash (and Apple apology) has any long-term effect on unit sales in the coming months.

Market prospects for a “mini-iPad”?

There is plenty of buzz about what Apple is developing next, including a RetailWire discussion about the merits of a smaller, less expensive tablet. Here’s my view:

Apple seems to own the high end of the tablet market, as long as it keeps adding features (such as retina display) for the same price. The move to a smaller, less expensive iPad is a flanking move that will affect the Kindle Fire, Google tablet and other competitors. (And nobody knows what Microsoft will sell its tablet for this fall.) The risk, however, is in cannibalizing sales of the full-sized iPad, so this will present some marketing challenges to Apple at the same time that it works on the iPhone 5 and “smart TV” concepts.

Amazon and its e-commerce competitors: Who’s winning?

It’s clear that there are four companies dominating the e-commerce landscape today: Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Each is taking a different approach to consumer businesses, but each is overlapping the others’ core competencies right now. RetailWire panelists discussed which of the four has had (or will have) the greatest influence. Here’s my opinion:

Of the four companies, Amazon has had the greatest impact on retailing…so far. It has set a standard for what makes a great website (broad assortments, competitive pricing, easy navigation and good execution) and has raised the bar for other e-commerce and multichannel retailers. Amazon also refuses to rest on its laurels, whether by expanding its variety or by moving aggressively into the “mobile” business.

Of the other three companies, Apple has been hugely influential in terms of its store experience but has had the benefit of selling its own remarkable products. It’s clear that Facebook and Google are working hard to become comprehensive e-commerce portals, so the answer to the question may be different in another five years.