Google Express: The Up and Coming Marketplace


    With partnerships with 28 retail stores and availability now across all US states, Google Express has continued to grow. Despite it being the quieter time of year for retailers, Google Express saw an astonishing growth of 33% for Q1 this year.

    In line with this, retailer partners using the platform also saw an average shopping cart increase of 30% since becoming a Google Express partner. 

    This has placed Express in the spotlight as a major new competitor for Amazon; particular comparisons have been drawn between Google Express and Amazon Prime Now due to the fact they both offer household goods and some groceries.

    Table of contents:

    So, what is Google Express?

    Billed as a competitor for Amazon Prime, Google Express is a shopping platform that allows users to purchase items using the Google Express website, app or with voice search using Google Home.

    It was originally launched in 2013 (formally known as Google Shopping Express) and the platform has been developed to streamline the buying process.

    A number of tweaks later meant it was fully launched across all of the US, with tailored suggestions and a universal shopping cart allowing shoppers to purchase directly on the platform.

    For retailers, this programme has three main advantages:

    Making it quicker and easier for retailers to sell

    For retailers, Google Express provides an opportunity for retailers to gain a competitive edge by being part of a marketplace with a significant number of customers without the need for more internal resources for the company.

    Enhancing customer experience through great, reliable service and user-friendly usage.

    Firstly, the Google Express interface is simple to navigate. Combined centralised billing details and numerous partners makes it a one-stop shop for many purchases. Secondly, Google Express has a customer service department which can handle complaints and some aspects of customer service.

    Lastly, having the availability of ordering through a number of devices such as desktop, mobile and voice search, customers are able to shop whenever and from wherever they want.

    Encouraging brand loyalty and lifetime value

    With a number of retailers from one platform, customers will find it easier to go back to the stores they are used to online without the issue of switching platforms, therefore encouraging brand loyalty.

    Having billing details all in one place is a step to encourage users to shop via the stores partnered with Google Express.

    The added bonus of having a brand like Google with reviews on hand for each product also increases the level of trust the customer has with the brand, encouraging them to purchase what they need via the platform.


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    How does Google Express work?    

    For the user, Google express is effectively a marketplace where they browse and purchase items from the retailers listed. They can read reviews of the products and if their basket hits the minimum spend (determined by the individual merchant), delivery is often free.

    google-express Google Express homepage: Google Shopping Blog


    For the retailer, It begins by making either some or all of their products available on the platform. They can either choose whether they would like packaging and shipping to be fulfilled by Google Express, or choose to use their own system. The costing of which usually reflects the service selected.

    To get started on Google Express, you will need to register your interest using the Shopping Actions Interest Form. You will also need to create a Merchant Center account if you’ve not already done so. In here, you’ll need to input business information, tax and shipping. Once approved, you will need to enable shopping actions in the Merchant Center. 

    It’s worth noting that in order to be approved you have to have the right products for the platform as well as pass safety and quality checks.


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    Google Express vs Amazon Marketplace

    As a direct competitor to Amazon, there are, of course, a multitude of similarities and differences between the two. These include:


    • There is a vast range of products available. Shoppers can purchase from a variety of departments (e.g. electronics, health and beauty, groceries) from one platform.

    google-express-vs-amazon Homepages of both platforms with departments expanded

    • For both platforms, it’s free for the shopper (not including Amazon Prime, which is a paid for service)
    • They each boast the sheer convenience of items being delivered right to your door.
    • They both also incorporate a strong usage of voice search; Google Express offering products from a selection of their retailers on Google Home and Amazon offering shopping directly through Alexa.


    • Firstly, the Google Express experience is more about shopping by merchant rather than by item. This does restrict the shopping slightly. On Google Express, you may buy your groceries from Whole Foods, but if you also wanted to buy a guitar Amplifier from Guitar Center, this would be a separate order as you’re using two separate retailers. On Amazon, you can usually put the separate items from different retailers through on the same order. To give you an idea, the image below shows how a store typically appears on Google Express. As you can see, you are in a specific store.

    costco-google-expressCostco within Google Express, image from AndroidPolice 

    • At one point, Google Express did offer fresh items, edging closer to competing with Amazon Fresh - a subsidiary of Amazon. However, delivery time on Google Express is 0-3 days. In some cases he shopper could have their items the same day. Other times it may be a little longer. Amazon spent a significant amount of time and money working on offering a next-day delivery service. Because of this, Google Express no longer sells perishable items.

    Interestingly, there was an expectation that Google Express would be popular amongst those who didn’t want to use Amazon. However, it’s been pretty clear that those who purchase from Google Express, also buy items from Amazon. For the shoppers, it appears to be less about competition and more about pricing and convenience.


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    Google Express vs Google Shopping

    Although both are powered by Google, Express and Shopping are two different offerings providing a small number of similarities and a much larger number of differences differences between the two.


    • Both features are free for customers to use.
    • For retailers, you will need to have a Merchant Center to feed the information to both platforms respectively.


    • Google Express is more of a marketplace platform, allowing customers to make purchases quickly and easily via Google. Shopping on the other hand, is more of an advertising  or referral platform. It allows retailers to advertise their products and upon being selected the customer is taken to the merchant’s website to complete the purchase.
    • Because Shopping is more about advertising the products, the pricing model for retailers is also entirely different. On Google Shopping, a merchant will pay everytime someone clicks through to their site whereas on Express, the retailer is charged a commission per sale.
    • Finally, the product offering and availability to merchants is vastly different (at the moment). On Google Shopping, almost any retailer can sign up and get ads running, provided they have a good site and are able to produce a shopping feed. However, to get on Google Express, you must be approved by Google. At the moment, the partners on Express are well-known brands - we’ll discuss this in more detail in a bit.

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    Google Shopping Actions and Google Express

    Google has been focussing on consumer behaviour and the attribution behind the purchases. Over the past 2 years, Google noticed that mobile searches for “where to buy…” had grown by a whopping 85%.

    This informed them that more has to be done in making full use of voice search to  make a sale an easy process.  

    Enter Google Shopping Actions, the fairly new programme introduced to make it quicker and easier for shoppers to select and purchase items.

    Working hand-in-hand with Google Express, Shopping Actions has help facilitate the possibility of customers adding items to their baskets no matter where they are or what device they are using - particularly via the use of Google Home.


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    Can anyone join it?

    Well, not exactly. As aforementioned, it is currently only available in America right now. With a number of brands rumoured to have been able to trial it over the globe, it is likely to expand to other countries in the near future too.

    The programme is working with a select, but fast growing list of popular brands including:

    • L’Occitane
    • Costco
    • Whole Foods
    • Wayfair
    • Walmart
    • Bed Bath and Beyond.

    The full list of brands can be found in the Google Express Help pages. This does appear to be primarily larger brands right now, so if you’re a medium-sized enterprise, it’s more about keeping an eye on this and seeing how it develops.


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    Final words…

    Google Express is a platform seriously worth keeping your eye on in 2018. With the popularity of voice search and speedy checkout services growing, the programme’s impressive growth is highly unlikely to begin slowing down anytime soon. 

    It’s predicted that Google Express will eventually roll out in countries outside of the US and continue to rival Amazon.

    Amazon rivalry aside, adding Google Express into your strategy could help you to join the current retail partners seeing a 30% growth.

    It’s always worth having a strong multi-channel strategy to continue the growth and discovery of new customers, wherever and however they prefer to shop.

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