Google joins Barnes & Noble to deliver physical books to consumers competing against mutual rival Amazon. Book buyers in Manhattan, West Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area, beginning on Thursday, can get same-day deliveries from local Barnes & Noble stores through Google Shopping Express, the company's online shopping and delivery service.
Some people still want to feel the hard- and softcover bound books that wrap printed paper pages. Barnes & Noble CEO Michael P. Huseby calls the partnership a test that could increase the company's online reach and improve sales of physical books at brick-and-mortar stores. The bookstore closed locations across the U.S. as it continues to struggle against online book sellers like Amazon.
Google employees are in Barnes & Noble stores in the markets where the two offer the service to deliver orders. Typically, a fleet of couriers supporting Google Shopping Express employs a fleet of couriers to collect purchases from local stores and deliver them to consumers within a three- to four-hour window. These stores include Costco, Whole Foods, REI, Staples, Smart & Final and, now, Barnes and Noble.
Piper Jaffray & Co. Analyst Gene Munster calls Google Shopping Express "another 'Nexus strategy' for Google in that they are testing a plan to essentially make an amalgamation of online retailers more competitive with Amazon by matching same day delivery." He believes Google's losing money on each Shopping Express order, but longer-term, Google will look to partner with a larger logistics company and act merely as an intermediary platform vs. a courier service.
For now the service undercuts the competition. Google Shopping Express costs $4.99 per store order, but now offers an introductory six-month trial membership for free. Amazon's same-day service costs $5.99 per shipment for Prime members and $8.99 for everyone else.