Google Makes a Move to Take on Shopify, Amazon and Walmart – TheStreet


Amazon (AMZN) – Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report sells stuff, pretty much everything, but that's not really its core business.
When Jeff Bezos launched the company, he made a decision that he would put investment over profits. That wasn't always a popular move with investors who sometimes failed to see the long-term benefits of putting billions into infrastructure.
Basically, Bezos knew that consumer demands would be ever-changing. In the early days, simply being able to deliver in 3-5 days was considered fast. Then, Amazon Prime added the bold promise of two-day delivery which later became one-day delivery. Now, same-day delivery has become expected for many items.
That's a gauntlet that Amazon threw down that Walmart (WMT) – Get Walmart Inc. Report has accepted. The brick-and-mortar chain has invested billions — including spending $3.3 billion to buy Jet.com — in trying to keep up with its rival. Shopify (SHOP) – Get Shopify, Inc. Class A Report has attempted to solve the same problems for companies that can't afford to solve logistics and delivery on their own.
Now, Alphabet's (GOOG) – Get Alphabet Inc. Class C Report Google wants to compete in this space.
Google may not have the delivery infrastructure Amazon, Shopify, and Walmart has, but it sees the problem those companies are trying to solve.
"Consumers rely on deliveries more than ever before and they expect these deliveries to be fast, reliable and low cost. In fact, ecommerce shipments are on track to double by 2026 and 90% of U.S. consumers expect free two-to-three-day shipping. This means last mile fleet operators have to work harder to create better consumer experiences and improve their operations," wrote Google Maps Platform Group Project Manager Shalin Mantri on the company's website.
That's why Google has launched what it's calling Last Mile Fleet Solution. It's not delivering for customers, it's helping companies that already have a fleet of trucks do a better job.
Starting today, Last Mile Fleet Solution is available to help fleet operators create exceptional delivery experiences, from ecommerce order to doorstep delivery. The solution allows your business to optimize across every stage of the last mile delivery journey: capturing valid addresses, planning delivery routes, efficiently navigating drivers, tracking shipment progress, and analyzing fleet performance. Last Mile Fleet Solution provides reliable infrastructure that scales with you as your business grows–all with predictable pricing per delivery. It builds on one of our existing mobility solutions, On-demand Rides & Deliveries, which is used by leading ride-hailing and on-demand delivery operators around the world
That's a lot of words to say that Google now has software that can help companies manage their delivery fleet and their customer experience better. It's all about making sure that partners have the tools and information to make on-time deliveries.
"With Last Mile Fleet Solution, companies can improve their experiences with simplified address entry to help capture correct addresses. Shipment tracking and up-to-date arrival times allow consumers to be ready and available to receive their packages. And detailed delivery locations can help drivers drop packages off at the right place, every time," Mantri wrote.
That seems small, but Amazon, Walmart, and Shopify usually get your order to your house. Making it easier for smaller companies to do that could level the playing field.
The true rival here may not be Amazon or Walmart (because they mostly ship the goods they sell) but Shopify, which offers its customers everything from warehousing to delivery. Google isn't reinventing the wheel here, it's leveraging its existing expertise in Maps to help delivery drivers be more efficient.
Last Mile Fleet offers a number of tools for drivers including:
These are all things Google does anyway, but packaging them for fleets should offer smaller companies a chance to not just be more efficient but be more transparent with customers.
For Mantri, it's about managing costs and helping companies make the right delivery decisions.
"Last mile delivery can make up over half of total shipping costs, which means the pressure to efficiently manage your fleet has never been higher," he said. "Last Mile Fleet Solution enables you to visualize your fleet in real time, including shipment status and route progress, helping you keep fleet performance at its peak. Real-time and predictive traffic is used to provide full-day ETAs, offering early signals into potential issues."
That may not hurt Amazon, Walmart, or Shopify (although it could) but it might allow more companies to meet the delivery expectations set by Amazon.  

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