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The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that Google has expanded its Google Express platform to a number of markets on the east coast, including Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The goal is said to be nationwide by the end of the year, after a long gestation that started in California in 2013.

The story explains that "with Google Express consumers can place orders online for products available at local stores — including Costco, Whole Foods Market and Kohl’s — and have those products delivered in under two days ... Google Express membership is $95 per year or pay-as-you-go at $4.99 per order for the delivery service. Customers can use a mobile app or go to the website google.com/express to see participating stores and place orders."

Those participating local stores include names such as Costco, Whole Foods, Sur la Table, Payless, Road Runner, Vitamin Shoppe, and Ahold-owned Giant of Landover - which also has its Peapod e-commerce offering, but is testing Google Express as an "opportunity to test a convenient, same-day delivery option on smaller, fill-in orders for our customers."
KC's View:
Google clearly is positioning itself as a kind of middle-man that can help a wide variety of retailers find ways to compete with Amazon, but I think the Ahold approach is instructive. While I think Google Express certainly is an option that a number of retailers can offer, I'm not sure it makes sense to focus on it as being the sole answer to e-commerce challenges.

In the end, I think retailers have to embrace the e-commerce opportunity, really taking ownership of it ... consumers need to see it as an extension of the store's brand experience. There are plenty of options out there for retailers that need help, but they have to take responsibility.