Walmart and Google team up to battle a common foe – Amazon.
First written in Sanskrit 2,500 years ago, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” counts among mankind’s oldest precepts. The concept had Churchill and Roosevelt partnering with Stalin’s Soviet Union against Hitler during World War II, and now has mega-corporations Google and Walmart joining up to battle a common threat – Amazon.
The two companies said Google would start offering Walmart products to people who shop on Google Express, the company’s online shopping mall, reported the New York Times. It’s the first time the world’s biggest retailer has made its products available online in the United States outside of its own website.
The partnership is a testament to the heat both companies feel from internet behemoth Amazon.com. Amazon's dominance in online shopping is an existential threat to brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart, while more people are starting web searches for products they might buy on Amazon instead of Google.
But working together does not ensure Walmart and Google will be any more successful. For most consumers, Amazon remains the primary option for online shopping. No other retailer can match the size of Amazon’s inventory, the efficiency with which it moves shoppers from browsing to buying, or its many home delivery options. Walmart’s website sells 67 million items, up from 10 million early last year. Amazon sells hundreds of millions of items. In July, about 83.6 million people visited Walmart’s website, only half as many visitors as Amazon had.
Demonstrating the primacy of logistics, Walmart has been partially repurposing its retail stores as e-commerce fulfillment centers, offering in-store pickup for products ordered online including groceries, and Google Express will offer free delivery with a $95 annual membership, a direct knockoff of Amazon Prime. Walmart may never catch Amazon online, but industry experts say if their partnership with Google can make them a strong number two, that could be enough.