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Google To Open Retail Stores



The retail business is a funny thing. It’s ultra-competitive, expensive and unpredictable. But retail margins have an allure that is hard to ignore.

It seems many retail brands are perennially unhappy with their lot in the business.

Bricks and mortar stores like Macy’s and Sears invest big bucks while striving to be better online merchants. eCommerce sites like Bonobos whose founder Andy Dunn in 2009 said, “We keep men out of retail stores when we know that men fundamentally don’t enjoy shopping.”, opened six stores in 2012. Apparently Dunn had a change of heart.

Now Google is getting into the retail game.

If you’ve visited Google Shopping recently, you might confuse the search giant for a retailer.

At the top of the Shopping page, a photo shows a snowboarder, furniture, cooking tools and exercise gear. directing consumers to a page where they can compare the latest product offerings. Another link sends consumers to a Garnet Hill catalog, where they can see an electronic copy of the print version that normally arrives in the mailbox.

A deeper dive into the Shopping area reveals that some of the product pages have a blue button in the top right-hand corner that could potentially be mistaken for Amazon’s “Add to Cart” yellow button.

Google denies the apparent similarities and publicly states it has no aspirations to become a retailer. Hmmm.

To remain competitive all retailers especially bricks-and mortar must invest heavily – either in technology, infrastructure, inventory or people. None come cheap and never without a learning curve. Google is looking for ways to provide more services to its business customers and online retailing is an obvious service opportunity for Google. But stores?

Google’s retail challenges are significant. None are more daunting than competitors Amazon and eBay. And that’s just in the eCommerce space. Jumping into the physical store fray will be a major move for Google. I hope they have a significant war-chest set aside for the project – because it will be costly.

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