The Future of Online Shopping: Where Walmart and Google Collide

The Walmart Vs Amazon Saga Continues and This Time Google Is in the Mix

Thus far, the competition between online giant Amazon and brick-and-mortar behemoth Wal-Mart has left the big box retailer battered and bruised. Over the years Amazon has increased its online dominance in home goods and consumer products, which forms the bread and butter of Wal-Mart’s business. As more people find these items online, fewer are taking the time to wander Wal-Mart’s massive stores.

Across all industries, shoppers are turning to eCommerce over traditional retail experiences, but the shift has been particularly apparent in the relationship between Amazon and Wal-Mart.

Amazon found success by offering the convenience of online shopping and keeping a commitment to the latest technology and digital data. This made the company an ideal disrupter of shopping habits around the world. Add in an incredibly lean and competition-driven business model, and you would think Amazon is nearly unbeatable when it comes to eCommerce. In fact, it is difficult to express Amazon’s sheer dominance in online shopping.

Wal-Mart isn’t ready to call a truce when it comes to eCommerce or traditional shopping, however. Instead, the companies are exchanging jabs through strategic acquisitions and partnerships. Wal-Mart acquired Jet.com in 2016, likely the biggest direct competitor to Amazon when it comes to online shopping. At the start of 2017, Jet.com began offering free two-day shipping on a large portion of its products.

Then, earlier this summer, Amazon bought Whole Foods, and just a few days ago dramatically dropped the prices at stores across the country. It is a move certain to attract some Wal-Mart shoppers who like the organic and local offerings at Whole Foods, but couldn’t swallow the high costs.

Now Wal-Mart is teaming up with a different online influencer, Google, to take on Amazon’s unique niche in shopping.

The Deal Struck Between Wal-Mart and Google

On August 23rd, Google and Wal-Mart announced a new collaboration between the two big brands. Starting in September, many of Wal-Mart’s products would be available through Google’s online shopping mall, Google Express. Through Google Express, consumers can browse products, take advantage of Wal-Mart’s famously low prices, and complete the purchase process entirely online.  Despite being the world’s largest retailer, this is Wal-Mart’s first foray into eCommerce outside of its own website.

If you are unsure how Google Express operates, it is essentially the online equivalent of your traditional shopping mall. The platform offers consumers access to over 50 different merchants including a number of large retailers. A shopper simply searches for a specific item, and then Google Express will return the available products from each included retailer.

As you shop on Google Express, you can combine items into a single basket for checkout and purchase, allowing a single shipment and payment process, regardless of the retailers that fulfill your order. Also, Google Express used to have a membership program similar to Amazon Prime that offered free shipping and other benefits but just announced it will start to offer free shipping to shoppers that meet specific spend requirements. When it comes to Wal-Mart the minimum spend will be $35.

Given the setup of Google Express, it is easy to see how the businesses could benefit from the partnership. Google Express can offer additional items under its already impressive umbrella of products, Wal-Mart gains more ground in eCommerce, without sacrificing any control over pricing and products, and it gives both companies an opportunity to challenge Amazon’s status as the sole champion of online shopping.

What Does Google Get from the Arrangement?

Some of the implications for Google are obvious, for instance, the ability to offer more products through Google Express. Other benefits are not immediately apparent, but far more valuable to the search engine company.

Most importantly is the exchange of shopping for information. By giving shoppers the ability to buy from Wal-Mart via Google, Google is able to access search histories, shopping carts, and even the shopping habits of Wal-Mart customers. Google is a data driven business, and a portion of this digital information will be organized and analyzed by Google to offer better advertising, improve artificial intelligence, and customize the experience on Google Express.

Doesn’t seem like enough to make Google interested in this deal? It is probably a better return than what Wal-Mart is receiving. Data is an essential piece of digital marketing and technology. Any opportunity that an eCommerce company has to understand customers better can lead to more sales. In terms of Google, this means potential upgrades to Google Express based on a better upstanding of customer trends and the ability to upgrade its artificial intelligence. If you think Google knew too much about its searchers to begin with, through Wal-Mart it could learn a whole lot more.

“Alexa, Can You Order Everything from Wal-Mart?”

While Wal-Mart and Google are poised to take part of Amazon’s consumer base right away, many eCommerce experts feel that isn’t the goal of this collaboration. Instead, the companies are looking towards the future of online shopping. Google has impressive search capabilities and technology, while Wal-Mart offers nationwide fulfillment possibilities. Additionally, on the currently-niche trend of voice-shopping, there is a sense this partnership could overwhelm Amazon’s Echo.

Google and Wal-Mart see potential in voice-shopping for groceries. A shopper would simply need to input a weekly shopping list, and Google’s artificial intelligence could place the order on a regular basis. In addition, changes to your usual order could be made by a simple voice command. Given Wal-Mart’s potential for fulfillment and in-store pickup, the combination could offer consumer unprecedented convenience when it comes to this weekly errand.

Seeing the Future of Online Shopping

The deal between Wal-Mart and Google is further evidence that online shopping is constantly changing. Just as one player in eCommerce has a foothold on a section of the industry, competitors are looking for ways to disrupt that business and increase sales. In this competitive marketplace, you need a partner in SEO, digital design, and platform development that you can trust. You need a partner that is knowledgeable in the specifics of eCommerce. You need 1Digital Agency.

At 1Digital Agency in Philadelphia, we are excited to discuss the upcoming changes to eCommerce and how our services can prepare you for the future. Visit our website to learn more.