Social Media

Amazon, Google Deliver Instant Gratification to Shoppers

May 7, 2014

Earlier this week, Amazon and Google announced updates that will continue to shape consumers’ path to purchase. The services — respectively called #AmazonCart and Google Shopping Express — are the latest in a series of developments bringing shoppers new dimensions of instant gratification.

#AmazonCart, the more incremental of the updates, is a partnership between Amazon and Twitter. After pairing their two accounts, a user can reply to any tweet containing an Amazon product link with, “#AmazonCart” to instantly add that product to their cart. While the feature doesn’t enable direct purchase from Twitter (users will still need to check out via Amazon) it makes adding products to the cart — which now acts as a kind of wish list for many users — frictionless. More than anything, #AmazonCart may nudge consumers toward a shopping mindset while using Twitter.

The second update, Google Shopping Express, is an expansion of a service previously only available in the San Francisco Bay area. Google has partnered with a range of retailers including Costco, Fairway, Target, Walgreens and Staples, to offer a seamlessly integrated shopping experience — free for the first six months, and with a $4.99/store fee thereafter. The service is now available in Manhattan and West Los Angeles; we won’t be surprised if it further expands with increasing success. Google’s service is distinct from Amazon’s similar offering in that it relies on the partner stores’ inventory rather than its own proprietary fulfillment centers.

Though united by their larger benefit — eliminating frictions from e-commerce — the two services impact brands and retailers variously:

Looking at #AmazonCart, we’re fascinated by how public the mechanism is: users must reply publicly to activate it. This element could shape the brands and products with which users will choose to engage—perhaps replying more often for aspirational purchases and conspicuous consumptions. Of course, this holds promise for influencer programs; if influencers, widely regarded as tastemakers, endorse a product on Twitter, followers might be quick to cosign with a reply containing the tag.

#AmazonCart could also drive brands’ product release announcements with the tag. (Some brands have already begun toying with Twitter — most notably Nike, which already requires consumers to RSVP before purchasing exclusive releases.) And more generally, the tag allows users an easier cart mechanism in mobile.

While CPG brands can get excited about Google Same-Day Delivery, the chief benefit is for partner retailers (and, of course, the brands sold there). Because Google’s service relies on the partners’ inventories — unlike Amazon’s same-day service, which uses proprietary fulfillment centers — it sits atop existing retail infrastructure rather than competes with it.

With other similar delivery developments in mind — Uber’s courier service, Postmates, Instacart and WunWun — it seems groceries, car services, search giants and big box retailer replacements alike are converging toward all-purpose logistics offerings. We’re eager to see what these services have in the pipeline, and how they’ll continue to mold and evolve consumer behavior.

Cover photo via MediaBistro