Beginning today, Manhattan, San Francisco Bay Area, and West Los Angeles denizens will be able to order books online for same-day delivery through a partnership between Barnes & Noble, Inc. (NYSE:BKS) and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s fledgling Shopping Express. Google introduced the service last year and allows customers to receive items from retailers like Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ:SPLS), Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT), Walgreen Company (NYSE:WAG), and Costco Wholesale Corporation (NASDAQ:COST) within a matter of a few hours.
Google – Barnes & Noble: A natural partnership
Barnes & Noble is no match for Amazon in the online arena and its brick and mortar locations are stagnant at best. While it maintains about 650 retail stories excluding its 700 odd campus stores littered amongst the university landscape, the company has closed over 60 stores in the last five years.
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Michael P. Huseby, Barnes & Noble’s chief executive, called the arrangement with Google “a test” and added that “It’s our attempt to link the digital and physical.”
While it’s often difficult to think of the behemoth that is Google wanting for much, Amazon dominates the search giant when it comes to searches that lead to purchases. Barnes & Noble is just a few years from going the way of Borders given Amazon’s popularity. Just as people who don’t read as much as they love guns have to wait a week to purchase a handgun, most voracious readers can wait a day or two for a book and Amazon Prime guarantees its just a two day wait.
“Many of our shoppers have told us that when they read a review of a book or get a recommendation from a friend, they want a really easy way to buy that book and start reading it tonight,” Tom Fallows, director of product for Google Shopping Express, said by email. “We think it’s a natural fit to create a great experience connecting shoppers with their town’s Barnes & Noble.”
And the longer Amazon continues its spats with publishers like Hachette, the more popular this partnership could become.
Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has recently expanded its same day shipping service from four cities to ten and charges $5.99 to Prime members for this option while non-members pay $9.98. Google will offer this new book delivery free of charge to Google Shopping Express subscribers while it charges $4.99 per store for non-members. Presently, not being a member makes little sense as it’s free for the first six months and they’ve yet to announce a subscription fee.
Barnes & Noble is not processing Google Shopping orders on its own website, rather it will have someone on-hand at participating stores to physically pick ordered items.
“Google has their own vast customer base,” said said Jaime Carey, chief merchandising officer at Barnes & Noble. “They’re going to be reaching a new customer for us.”
Good, because they need it.