By: Adam Chadbourne
In the shopping market today, there are not just brick-and-mortar stores anymore. With the rise of technology, “omnichannel shopping” (Shoat), or shopping through the internet, mobile phones, and in-store has become the norm in society. One of the biggest retailers on the internet is Amazon, which focuses on selling a variety of goods, such as movies, books, and pieces of technology that can be delivered right to one’s doorstep. Amazon has been an established company for many years and people feel that no other company can compete with Amazon, based on their prices and fast shipping. Google is now attempting to follow Amazon by developing their own marketplace, called Google Express.
In the American Marketing Association article, entitled Google Targets Holiday Shoppers With Same-Day Shipping by Molly Shoat, the author describes how Google has started its own online retailing service to compete with Amazon and others. Google has become a partner with multiple retailers, such as Costco, Toys R’ Us, Barnes and Noble, Walgreens, Target, and more, to bring a variety of goods, including electronics, books, clothes and groceries, directly to consumers. Their concept is similar to that of Amazon Prime: for a membership fee, people using Google Express can order items and have it shipped to their house that day. Customers can find the items by logging into Google Express and seeing what items are available, or by typing in a product name into the Google search engine and seeing if it pops up or not. As Google Express is only in its initial stages, it is only available in San Francisco, Boston, Washington D.C., and Chicago; however, there are additional developing markets, such as New York City and Detroit. How might Google Express affect the consumer decision making process?
In the textbook, the Consumer Decision Making Process states how consumers can come to make a purchase decision. There are various factors that can affect a decision, such as value of the item, its distribution network, the way it is marketed, or available technology. The process itself is also a cycle that has multiple stages, including problem recognition, search for information, evaluation of alternative solution, product choice decision, and post-purchase assessment. Google Express may factor into this cycle. Say a consumer wants to buy the latest videogame system (problem recognition) and they want to find a location where they sell that product and the prices at each (search for information). The consumer can accomplish these things by doing a simple Google search for the product, and they will most likely find multiple sellers and be able to compare them (evaluation of alternative solution). With Google Express, by searching an item, one can see multiple retailers that sell the product and the price they are charging. After determining which solution is best, consumers can decide which one to buy (product choice decision), and with Google Express they can make the purchase straight from Google. After they receive the item, they can leave reviews on the Google Express forum or directly on the seller’s page (post-purchase assessment). While there are pros of Google Express, it is far from flawless.
Google Express has not engaged in a lot of advertising, which has hurt awareness, resulting in less activity on the site. Also, Google Express has not done as much business as other online sellers, such as Amazon or eBay, because they have a limited distribution network. If the person buying the product lives directly in San Francisco, Boston, Washington D.C., or Chicago, they should not have a problem getting a product from Google Express, but if they are not, then they are out of luck. Without being able to gain access to items sold through Google Express because of destination limits, consumers will be more inclined to go elsewhere to get their products, whether it be a physical or online retailer. Google Express has shown signs of improving, and they may be able to spread their coverage in the future, but as for now, the flaws are driving customers to different locations.
In conclusion, Google Express has the potential to be a direct competitor with Amazon. Google Express can affect the entire cycle of the Consumer Decision Making Process and can also get the items to customers with one day shipping. The distribution network for Google Express needs much improvement though, since they only deliver to certain locations, and it causes customers to go elsewhere for their products. Once Google Express improves its marketing and distribution channels, it might offer some stiff competition for other online retailers, specifically Amazon.