News Feature | May 6, 2014

Google Positions Itself For Retail Success

By Hannah Ash, contributing writer


The King of Search Acquires Retail Forecasting Startup, Expands Shopping Express

This week marks two new steps further into the retail world for Google; the expansion of its Google Shopping Express program into a new market and the acquisition of retail forecasting startup Rangespan (and all of its data). Google Shopping Express, which offers same-day delivery from select brick-and-mortar retailers, will now be accessible to the both the West Los Angeles and Manhattan markets. The acquisition of Rangespan, a retail data company founded by two ex-Amazon employees, brings Google retail data that is poised to significantly expand Google Shopping. The news of both the expansion and acquisition suggests Google is looking leverage its search empire for a strong e-commerce platform.

Google Shopping Express, which works with leading retailers including Target, Walgreens, and Staples as well as select grocery to provide customers with same-day delivery, has up until now only been available in the tech-forward Bay Area around San Francisco. The expansion into the bi-coastal markets of West Los Angeles and Manhattan are a clear sign that the program has left beta and is moving toward a nationwide campaign. Purchasing Rangespan gives Google key access to its data processing technology; the technology provides retailers with data on what to sell and when to sell it. Rangespan Founder Ryan Regan commented that the company would wind down its services and fully merge with Google, saying, “There are a lot of parallels between what we are doing and what Google is doing and we are excited to work together.”

Google Shopping originally launched in 2002 as a price comparison service for shoppers under the name ‘Froogle’; in 2012, the service was rebranded as Google Shopping.  Google Shopping Express originally launched in September of 2013 with a fleet of 50 vehicles. Though Google eventually plans to move toward a subscription-based fee system for delivery, fees are currently charged by the stop. In the so-called ‘same-day’ delivery wars currently being carried out on the national stage, Google has what could be a significant advantage over Amazon. The Internet giant is making itself an asset to retailers rather than working against them. By offering retailers access to same-day delivery through Google Shopping Express in addition to product inventory insights through Rangespan’s database, Google may be setting itself up for sustainable retail success going forward.

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