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Thu Dec 1 2011 23:28:55

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

By: Ina Steiner

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Amazon Prime was a stroke of genius for the online marketplace. Get consumers to pay $79 for unlimited free shipping, and they'll come back to your site when they want to shop in order to get "free shipping"!

Now Google is rumored to be planning a shipping service that competes with Amazon Prime, according to the Wall Street Journal. Google's service may be modeled after GSI Commerce's ShopRunnner, which charges consumers $79/year to get free 2-day shipping on eligible items from a small network of top retailers.

If you haven't heard of ShopRunner, then you understand the challenge that Google faces with the model - having to work with a network of retailers is a far cry from Amazon Prime, in which Amazon holds 100 percent of the inventory it ships, and has fulfillment centers all over the country. (Though today's Journal article does raise the question, why did eBay cede control of ShopRunner when it acquired GSI Commerce?)

Google will rely on its existing service called Local Availability to help it power the shipping service, according to the Wall Street Journal. If you do a search on Google Product Search for a Canon digital camera today, Google shows you a list of local chain stores such as Best Buy and indicates whether they have the item in stock at that store. Large retail chains send that information to Google as part of their Merchant Center feeds.

It's unclear exactly how the rumored service would work, but if Google ties the shipping service to Local Availability, it could then have a message next to the stores' "in stock" message that says "get this item with 1-day shipping," or something to that effect. Google could then charge the retailer for sending the customer to their site - not a stretch, since that's how its ad model works. And since Google is sending local consumers to the brick-and-click retailer, 1-day shipping would not be as expensive for the retailer as sending it across the country.

Small merchants are unlikely to qualify for such a program - they're already disqualified from participating in Google's Local Availability feature - and like eBay, Google is focused on large enterprise accounts.

A Google shipping service would be much more about helping its large merchant customers than about Google operating a "marketplace." While Google has stellar search and advertising businesses, it hasn't succeeded at everything it has set out to do - its Google Checkout online payments service is just one example of that.




Comments (19) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

by: oren

Thu Dec 1 23:56:26 2011

Looks like they've overlooked small sellers AGAIN...

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

by: Digby
Web Site

Fri Dec 2 01:06:42 2011

Google should just stick to search etc.
All of these forays into other areas in competition with other companies is just madness.
And should be banned as monopolistic.
I did not even know they had that"service"

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

by: Tired

Fri Dec 2 02:46:53 2011

Google, eBay and Amazon seem to forget by catering to large accounts and dismissing small sellers that these same small sellers are usually the largest buyers. All that little money sure can add up fast. Wouldn't it be great if everyone made it a point, a mission, to buy from small sellers first. Aren't we little guys tired of being cr*pped on by big business? OCCUPY....

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

by: Tom Campbell
Web Site

Fri Dec 2 03:29:36 2011

This seems way out of Google's core business. Plus Amazon has a massive infrastructure for both Prime and its grocery business snapped firmly into place. For Google to get that many boots on the ground they'll be having to depart dramatically from the stuff they're good at.

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

by: OhForPetesSake

Fri Dec 2 05:56:40 2011

Why is it small hobby sellers have such a sense of entitlement.

Small sellers DO NOT make money for any site. Usually the small hobbyist is more trouble than they are worth.

I'd be willing to bet that if they could all sites would get rid of them ASAP. I foresee in the future that sellers will have to sell a certain amount in order to use ones site.

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ina

Fri Dec 2 09:00:56 2011

@OhForPetesSake I would have to disagree - eBay got to where it is not through retailers like Sears and Macy's, but through individual and mom-and-pop sellers. Look at the financials for the first five years of eBay's life, it was a cash-generating machine, with sellers taking all the risk.

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Fri Dec 2 09:28:58 2011

Small doesn't necessarily mean "hobby." All businesses have to start somewhere and a lot of us are slowly building our businesses on the various marketplaces. It can take time to grow, especially in such a tough economy.

I run my business as a business, not a hobby. I do it to make money, not because it's necessarily "fun" (though it can be). I don't think smaller businesses necessarily feel entitled, but they do have a right to be annoyed. Most of these venues enticed them to jump on board and start selling, telling them that they support small businesses and how great it is for the little guys to be making money. Yet once they arrive, the venues turn their backs on them and focus all their attention on the behemoths. That is what the little guys are complaining about.

As a business person I do get that smaller sellers cost more money for less return for the venues. However, these little guys deserve to get the services they're paying for and not the condescending pat on the head while having their pockets picked that's been going on. The venues are happy to take fees from all comers, but they need to provide value for those fees to all sellers, not just the big guys. If they don't want to do that, they should say so and let the small businesses decide if it's worth it to them to continue on venue where they aren't supported or aren't getting their money's worth from the fees they pay.

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

by: anyone out there

Fri Dec 2 09:45:24 2011

Like it has been said before here and elsewhere. If ya all don't like the way the site treats you THEN LEAVE.

They are not requiring you to stay, you stay by YOUR choice.

So quit complaining.

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

by: Moonwishes
Web Site

Fri Dec 2 10:34:55 2011

Not sure how Google could even impliment a shipping system when they have no control of inventory or the sellers. Amazon sets shipping prices on its site and the sellers have to sell through it's site so this Prime thing can work for them. Google isn't in that situation although they seem to have been working hard to get there. In February and March of 2009 Google changed the way their search works, and from a record high sales month in February of that year, our sales are sinking slowly as Google caters more and more to the large sellers and shuts the smaller sellers out. Just because a sellers isn't Walmart doesn't mean that we don't have a lot of stock that isn't available anywhere else. We are unique sellers. Google as a search engine used to be aware of that and a seller like us would show up high on a Google search. Now the bigger sellers are featured whether they have the item in stock or even if they don't even sell such a product. While we may not be paying for PPC rates, we do pay GCO fees and they add up over time. Google needs to remain a search engine instead of trying to grab a piece of the selling pie. Since they hired on ex-ebayer bigwigs, Google has gotten greedy and forgotten what it started out to do. They were a profitable company before they started making these changes and I'm sure they would stay profitable without trying to be a merchant without product of it's own, reminds me of ebay now. All I know is that Google has been requiring small sellers to stand on their heads attempting to get listings 'right' to even show up in Google Shopping.

Google started out small. Why when these companies get big do they forget that it is the little guys/small sellers (and I'm not talking hobbyists) that spark growth to our economy. The money we earn at our stores, stays in our town or at least the USA. How many of the big companies with cash stored off shore can say that?

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

by: Charlie W. This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Fri Dec 2 10:59:19 2011

I'm a subscriber to Amazon Prime and I love it!

Of course the ''free'' shipping isn't free (after all I paid up-front to be in the program) but I buy so many things from Amazon, that over the course of a year, it's WELL WORTH the initial investment.

This is especially true during the holidays AND from time to time when I need to upgrade to the next-day delivery option... a bargain at $3.99. (Also, depending on your location, the regular ''2-day'' shipping ends up being ''next-day'' delivery on some items.)

The digital video streaming service that I also get with Amazon Prime is merely ''okay''. I'd give it a grade of ''C''. ~~ The streaming quality is just as good as Netflix, but the selection and variety could use some improvement.

Before anyone invests in this type of ''free shipping'' gimmick, they would be wise to think about how much they've purchased in the past, and try to anticipate how much they'll spend in the future.

It's definitely a gimmick. But in this case, it's a gimmick that works for me, and it keeps me loyal to Amazon to make sure I get my money's worth over time.

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

by: Tony DeLuca

Fri Dec 2 13:37:57 2011

I actually like Amazon Prime -- but believe me, the shipping isn't ''free.'' Not only do you have to pony up $79 to join Prime, Amazon often adds the price of shipping to the product. In these instances it pays to shop around -- Amazon prices can be beat.

The shipping with Prime is super fast -- this is the reason I like it. I don't fall for the ''free'' shipping baloney. Until the Post Office, FedEx and UPS work for nothing and ship packages at zero cost, there will be no such thing as truly ''free'' shipping.

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Fri Dec 2 14:36:45 2011

When you consider that the whole eBay Marketplace process is performed by a computer algorithm—admittedly a poorly written one—that operates at the speed of light, there should be very little difference in the cost of eBay servicing a small or large merchant.

The arrant stupidity of an arrogant cretin such as John Donahoe is that he deliberately chose to destroy eBay’s successful past because he apparently considered eBay’s “flea market” image to be beneath him.

Any person with any intelligence would have simply created a new branch on the existing sound trunk for the “brand” retailers that he apparently so desperately craved, but not this headless turkey, no, he had to, in his own utterly inane words, “create a vision of the future so people could let go of a very successful past.”

When the eBafia finally goes submarine under the command of Kapitan Johannes Von Donut, the arrant stupidity of this headless turkey will undoubtedly be recorded in the texts of future business school text books as a classic example of what not to do with any business—as if even such a cretin should need to be taught such a principle.

If this turkey’s destruction of eBay was not such a sad event it would be laughable.

Enron / eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Fri Dec 2 15:51:54 2011

When large corporations aren't actively trying to wipe out competitive smaller businesses, they're busy exploiting them.

When advantageous, big business baits the hook to lure entrepreneurs like us, uses the fees and our success to lure even bigger fish onboard that eventually put us out of business, and the cycle begins again.

Big business doesn't care whether such a strategy puts you out of business or not.

It's all about THEM and THEIR bottom line, not yours.

Main Street is littered with the corpses of small businesses that WalMart killed.

Sooner or later, Amazon will decide as ebay has that it's far too important to bother with us little guys.

The Wall Street banksters currently love Amazon because they believe Amazon warehouses and FBA program cut Amazon's costs by about 13%.

So the stampede has begun although in ebay's case they're also trying to hide the country of origin for Chinese sellers.

A few decades ago, centralization was in; today it's out.

It's all of little consequence because when Ebay, Amazon, and Google are through with you and your insignificant little business, you're finished there.

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

This user has validated their user name. by: Philip Cohen
Web Site

Fri Dec 2 23:12:08 2011

Mr Michael Jacobson, eBay SVP Legal Affairs, has just exercised 40,000 eBay share options at $14.51 and immediately sold same at $$29.71.

http://investor.ebayinc.com/common/download/download.cfm?companyID
=ebay&fileid=S1209175-11-20&filekey=1065088&filename=1209175-11-20.pdf


Isn’t it nice to know that these insiders have such confidence in the business that they are managing.

And, from along the way a compilation of (mostly inane) quotes from eBay executives:
http://forums.auctionbytes.com/vbulletin/showthread.php?t=24159  

Enron / eBay / PayPal / Donahoe: Dead Men Walking.

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

by: John

Sat Dec 3 08:17:35 2011

A group of VERY SMALL companies developed in the late 19th century and early 20th century developed from single person patents merged  together:... the subsequent mergers lead to one of the largest companies in American History with nearly 400,000 employees world wide. That company is known as IBM....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_IBM

All companies start from small ideas mom & pops, or or single people with an idea. Even a large corporation who develops a large scale corporation has to trace this new companies roots back through its own development.

To say that small sellers  make no money for a large corporation or has nothing to do with the development  in the growth of any corporation is simply ludicrous.

Every lg corporation needs the small seller to survive. eBay and Amazon has brought this out to the forefront, but behind the scenes  are small business contractors and subcontractors who sell to and for large corporations with their customer service and sales experience used as a way to keep cost down for larger companies.  

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

by: Digby
Web Site

Sat Dec 3 12:12:29 2011

Isn't it funny that every non ebay post that Ina makes, ends up attracting a whole lot of anti ebay/paypal posts !

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

by: Randy S.

Sat Dec 3 12:29:13 2011

@Digby, actually most of the posts are on topic, save for the usual diatribes from the 'one trick ponies' who come here to mark their territory. I've learned to scroll past them and stick to the responses that have a point.

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

This user has validated their user name. by: Ming the Merciless

Sat Dec 3 13:32:23 2011

The old business model meant that a lot small businesses could indeed grow into big businesses.

That's the old business model. While it still happens from time to time, this model is no longer practical for most.

Today's big business model is outsource wjhenever possible, buy from the cheapest Chinese vendor, fill in when necessary with American small business produced goods or services, and then drop them whenever it meets their needs.

It's not an environment that creates and nurtures small businesses because too many of the the big guys are greedy, corrupt, and skirt the law.

As for the one trick pony complaints, go mark your own territory in your San Jose cubicle.

Those sellers who think the next website will always treat them fairly hopefully will understand that it's not going to happen in today's business environment.

Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?   Google to Add Shipping Service to Large Merchant Offerings?

by: dan

Mon Dec 5 07:33:07 2011

I believe in new possibilities.... it is all good but Google is starting to remind me of Yahoo.  They are trying to do too many things...each project is like a small branch of a tree and its essentially ignored once created, and the people looking at the empty branch are left bored to death



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