If you feel the urge today, you can pick up your smartphone and say to the Google Assistant, “Order my favorite soap from Target,” and you’ll be presented with a photo of the item, and a button to click to order it. According to Google, you can do the same thing today with a Google Home device to get any available item shipped to your door.
What Amazon has done is enable the Google Express shopping experience for Target stores, along with voice ordering using either the Google Assistant app or Google Home or Android Televisions. While Google Express already works with the Google Assistant on your phone, there may be some additional integration coming since today’s announcement by Google indicates that there’s more to come.
The move by Google and Target is another step in the effort by major brick and mortar retailers to find ways to take on Amazon in today’s retail wars. For the past few years Amazon has been gaining ascendency in retailing by making buying as convenient as possible, as cheap as is reasonable and with as easy delivery as possible.
For Amazon, this means you can get nearly anything you’re likely to want delivered in a day or two. In some areas of the U.S. this time has now been compressed into delivery within an hour or two. Where I’ve tried such delivery in the Washington, DC metropolitan area it has worked well.
But Google and its partners such as Walmart and Target know that there’s more to the world than those major metropolitan areas served so well by Amazon. People in those areas want free delivery in a day or two. They would like to be able to get the stuff they buy immediately get it shipped for free. This is what Google is doing with Google Express.
By adding Target, Google Express has added somewhat more upscale choices to what’s available, which makes sense given the new focus on voice ordering. After all, those customers already have to be willing to shell out fifty bucks for a Google Home Mini at a minimum to order goods. They’re going to want choices that reflect their interests.
Google Express is taking on Amazon in other ways as well. With Target, for example, you can get free two-day delivery on orders over $35. Plus you can use your Target credit card to get additional discounts. Members will also get personalized recommendations and fast reorder based on past buying history.
The idea here is to reduce the friction of buying as much as possible so that potential customers will shop through Google Express rather than through Amazon. What remains to be seen is whether it will work.