Google (Shopping) Express: An Amazon Contender?

Like me, you might be scrambling this week to buy your remaining Christmas gifts (how is it already December 21?!). You might be tempted to join the 80 MM Amazon Prime members to take advantage of their deals, or you might already be a member. While it’s clear that Amazon dominates the online shopping world, Google has been progressively making strides to garner more of Amazon’s market share, and its latest attempt is through expanding its partners on Google Express.

What is Google Express?

Google Express is an online shopping site touting fast delivery, no annual membership, and some big-name retail partnerships. Express had a pretty quiet launch in 2013 and was only initially available in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, but is now available nationwide.

Google initially teamed up with Wal-Mart to offer this service but has recently expanded its partnerships adding big brands like Target, Costco, and The Home Depot to name a few.  You can access Express through the site, the app, or by voice through the Google Assistant.

Google Express Navigation Options

Similar to Amazon, you can navigate to various departments in the lefthand navigation panel:


Among the department choices is a Grocery option, which is a big advantage over Prime Pantry which is limited to Prime members only. As more partners are added to Express, it seems pretty safe to assume that more Departments will also be added based on the retailers’ products.

Another big differentiator between Amazon and Google Express is the ability to shop by retailer through the ‘Stores’ option (below ‘Departments,’ as seen above). Once you click through ‘Stores’ you’re taken to an easy-to-navigate page with a list of retail partners:



Through the lefthand navigation panel, you can also create a shopping list, place a reorder and check the status of an existing order.

Shipping Costs & Delivery Times

In addition to a grocery delivery option and the ability to search by store, Express is also striving to get a leg up on Amazon through shipping costs.

When you meet a store’s minimum spend ($25 or $35 for most) then delivery is free. The only caveat on delivery price at this time is when ordering from Costco without a membership; in this case, a 10% per-item fee is applied.

As with Amazon, delivery times vary. Express offers a range of times based on both your geolocation and the store you’ve ordered from. You can get anything from same-day service to that of one week or more for some stores.

Voice Search

Although it’s not yet available for all retail partners, if you own Google Home you can use voice search for shopping.

This was a great addition on Google’s part, however, they still have a long way to go in terms of user adoption for Google Home. Amazon has sold an estimated 15 MM Echos vs. 5 MM for Google Home. Voice Search usage is predicted to increase throughout 2018, so Google will need to up their marketing efforts if they want to close the gap with Echo sales.

Google Shopping: The Future

As an online marketer, when I came across Google Express my first thought was: “what about Google Shopping?”

At this point, many things are still unclear. For starters, how does a retailer even become an Express partner? As far as I can tell, the existing partners are mostly big brands. Will partnership opportunities open up to smaller businesses?

How will smaller businesses compete if Express gains traction and more users choose that option for their online shopping needs? If your business sells unique products, chances are you can continue with PLAs (as long as they’re around) and you won’t feel the impact of Express as much; however, if your products are available through larger retailers you could certainly lose out on sales over time.

In Conclusion

Ultimately, Google has a long way to go to close the gap with Amazon, but its unique offerings certainly give it the advantage to progressively gain more market share.

Although online shopping as a medium isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, it will be interesting to see its evolution over time, especially considering that Generation Zers are more likely to make in-store purchases than Millenials. As the single largest media audience segment, their shopping habits and preferences will certainly be felt over time.

Have you tried Google Express? How do you think it compares to Amazon? Let us know in the comments below!