Amazon first hit the scene in the late ‘90s along with Google. Back then, I’m sure no one could’ve predicted that the two would somehow wind up competitors in the tech and retail space – and yet, that’s exactly what seems to have happened. As such, Google is partnering with Barnes & Noble to start delivering books cheaply and quickly to customers. I did not see this coming.

A new report from the New York Times says that the partnership will take shape in Google’s recently launched online retail initiative, Google Shopping Express – a service that simply doesn’t have the same ring to it as Amazon. For now, GSE is limited to Manhattan, West Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area, and it will provide same-day delivery from Barnes & Noble stores in those areas.

According to the article, the new service is officially only a “test” for now – though it stands to reason that if it’s successful, it could easily roll out to other cities since Barnes & Noble stores aren’t necessarily difficult to come by throughout the United States.

B&N’s CEO Michael P. Huesby said that the agreement is the company’s “attempt to link the digital and physical.” It’ll be interesting to see whether the experiment leads to more partnership between the two companies. Currently, Google offers digital books via its Play Store, while Barnes & Noble has its own online presence and its line of Nook e-readers. Neither has managed to achieve as much success as Amazon and its Kindle line, but maybe the two companies will find strength through collaboration.

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The article also offers some more details about Google Shopping Express in general. Apparently Google uses “a fleet of couriers who collect products from local stores, sort and bundle them and deliver them within a three- to four-hour window selected by the customer.” If you’re a subscriber to the service – which for the first six months is free of charge, with no fee structure yet announced for when the trial period ends – delivery is free. If you don’t subscribe, each delivery costs $4.99 per delivery, per store.

Google Shopping Express launched last year in San Francisco, and only this past spring expanded to New York and LA. However, it seems as though the service might have a tough time expanding to other territories…or at the very least, territories that aren’t as densely populated as its current three territories. That said, I hope I’m wrong on that, since same-day delivery via Google sounds like a great way to keep money going to local stores and companies, while adding in the convenience of online shopping from home, not to mention creating employment opportunities for people living in your area.

Will Barnes & Noble and Google be able to put a dent in Amazon’s empire? We’ll see.

[Source: New York Times]


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