What’s behind Google Express’s Retail Partnership Push?


Jan. 5 2018, Updated 10:36 a.m. ET

Google Express partners with Walmart

Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google is expanding its online shopping and shipping service called Google Express, which launched in 2013. Recent expansion moves have included welcoming retailers Walmart (WMT) and Target (TGT) to the platform. Google added Walmart as a Google Express retail partner in August 2017, and that marked the first time that Walmart made its items available online to US (SPY) shoppers on a platform other than its own.

Google Express has attracted over 50 retailer partners. Besides Walmart and Target, the other retail brands connecting with shoppers on Google Express are Costco (COST), Kohl’s (KSS), Bed Bath & Beyond (BBBY), and Walgreens (WBA).

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Creating frictionless retail experience

Speaking at a recent Credit Suisse event, Google’s chief business officer Philipp Schindler shed a little more light on the inspiration behind the company’s push for more Google Express retail partnerships. Schindler, who oversees Google’s global sales activities, tied the retail partnership push to a need to create frictionless experiences for shoppers and merchants. Google Express operates a one-stop platform for consumers to shop from an array of retailers and enjoy free delivery if they meet the minimum order threshold.

Leveraging technology to boost retail sales

For retail partners, Schindler said that Google was leveraging technology to help them make more sales. For example, shoppers on Google Express can order or reorder items via voice command through Google Home, the company’s voice-enabled speaker. The partnership with Google Express is expected to enable Walmart shoppers to place orders via voice on smartphones equipped with Google’s artificial intelligence software called Google Assistant. Walmart’s online sales grew 50% year-over-year in fiscal 3Q18, as illustrated in the chart above.


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