Google Express: Is it competing with Amazon as a new transportation service?

Editor Newsletter

Note: In January, CPC covered the rising story of Amazon's growth as a logistics carrier. In late December, Amazon was looking to lease jets and buy out an NVO to allow better coverage internationally and long-distance domestically. Recently, Amazon announced that they had successfully leased 20 jets for a 5 year lease, an arguably long contract for what was announced as a test drive. While Amazon claims their strategy is to help small business owners with their shipping needs, others such as the WSJ are starting to question how large of an intermodal logistics network Amazon intends to build.

CPC covered Amazon's last-leg deliveries extensively in the January issue of the newsletter, and that is where the story continues. Recently, Google Express popped up on the grid, and a lot of people have questions as to what Google's intentions are with this brand new service. CPC believes that Google Express is nothing more than a shell for e-commerce with its select partners. Whether or not Google is looking into expanding its reach and developing a logistics network on the scale of Amazon's delivery service is something CPC cannot discern. In any case, shippers need not pay attention to the new service in the short-term.

Google Express is the current equivalent of Amazon Fresh, where customers can order food, home and beauty supplies for its customers.  Express is interesting because they've partnered with specific companies such as Staples, Costco, and Whole Foods to provide more brand-name foods. They are trying to cater more to the family's needs, rather than just food. Overall, Express provides same-day or overnight delivery depending on the type of goods being delivered. However, it does seem like a small-scale experiment that is focused around last-leg deliveries and the realm of local e-commerce.

What you don't see right away is how Google is making these deliveries. Rather than using its own fleet, Google has processed the orders through the companies they've partnered with and hired OnTrac to make the deliveries. Granted, these are last-leg and parcel deliveries, but it utilizes an existing service rather than developing its own parcel delivery service. In terms of ingenuity, Amazon has cleverly combined US Mail and Amazon Flex (the last-leg equivalent of Uber) to handle its small parcel deliveries. This means that Express is more of a re-branding for e-commerce, rather than showing off a new design that might offer competition against other carriers or Amazon.

In conclusion, Google Express is nothing worth investigating as a potential competitor to Amazon as of yet. While it would be interesting to see if Google could provide a structure equivocally as intricate and thought-out as Amazon, it remains to be seen what Google's intentions are and if they go beyond a very basic rebranding. For now, the service appears to be lackluster.

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