Google said to prep e-commerce push


Google Inc. signage is displayed at the company's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. on April 4, 2011. (Tony Avelar/Bloomberg)
March 5, 2013

Google may be planning to take on Amazon in the e-commerce space, according to a TechCrunch report that claims the company is working on a discounted same-day shipping service that would take on Amazon’s Prime program, as well as similar efforts from eBay and Wal-Mart.

Amazon Prime members receive free two-day shipping for $79 per year; TechCrunch’s report indicates Google’s service would cost between $10 to $15 less.

In a statement, a Google spokesman said the company has nothing to announce at this time, but that it is continuing its work on retail products and partnerships with retailers.

Strengthening its e-commerce push would put the company in a strong position to capi­tal­ize off strong growth in online sales, which recently saw a record holiday season, and is expected to grow between 9 percent and 12 percent in 2013.

TechCrunch doesn’t have all the details about how the system may work, but does suggest that the service would act as a central destination for existing Google commerce moves such as Google Shopping and the check-out features of Google Wallet, which unifies a payment system for buying apps, movies and books across the Google ecosystem.

That could mean the company will emulate the model set by eBay’s Now service, which partners with area retailers such as Target and Best Buy to give users a limited range of goods that can be delivered anywhere they are — their homes, workplaces or even while out and about. The company originally limited the service to San Francisco, but has expanded into San Jose, Calif., and New York.

Or, given the company’s recent acquisition of the firm BufferBox — a Canadian start-up that lets online shoppers pick up their packages from storage lockers. Amazon uses a similar system, Amazon Locker , in certain areas to give shoppers an alternative option to having packages left on their doorsteps.

Google has made some strides into e-commerce in the past, with services such as its Google Offers daily-deals service and in mobile payments with its Google Wallet app, which lets customers reach for their phones to pay for something instead of their wallets.

The company has reportedly been reorganizing its payments department over the past year. In January 2012, All Things Digital noted that the company’s vice-president of commerce and PayPal alum Stephanie Tilenius had switched her focus to overseeing the company’s global commerce efforts. The TechCrunch report says that the effort is being spearheaded within the company by Tom Fallows, the company’s e-commerce product manager.

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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