ADOTAS – According to both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, who had spoken with insiders who weren’t authorized yet to speak on the record about the project, Google is working on a service that, for a fee, will ship and deliver products within a day after they’re ordered. Not a lot of details are available at this juncture: The service might launch sometime in 2012, it might involve some kind of partnership with a major shipping company, and while the Journal says Google is “in talks with major retailers,” the only retailer who’s confirmed they’d been approached to partner with the search behemoth is Macy’s (and a Macy’s representative says the company hasn’t made any decisions yet). What is clear is that this new service would be a parallel and competitor to Amazon Prime, Amazon’s subscriber service that offers two-day shipping (and also access to streaming movies and Kindle books) at a cost of $79 per year.
Google’s not looking explicitly to become a retailer, or to build stores or warehouses, according to those sources. The new service would lean on Google’s product search feature, and a partnering company or companies would handle shipping. The idea is that the service would provide incentive for customers to use Google’s product search. Amazon right now is the reigning go-to spot for online shopping — according to ComScore statistics, Amazon’s website has handled three to four times as many product-related searches as Google’s product search has over the past year. Amazon has reported a 42 percent increase in sales for the first nine months of 2011, compared to 2010, and Amazon Prime certainly had something to do with that. Google obviously has a lot to gain by honing in on the action, or at least it would be well served to strike back and protect its position as the web’s top seller of online advertising. Google’s made some inroads towards a burlier product search function lately, launching Google Trusted Stores in October for retailers that meet certain customer service standards (and share shipping and customer service data with Google) and offering customer ratings and reviews (a la Amazon). Today’s reports indicate more clearly where Google is going with this.