Ever since the rise of e-readers, Barnes & Noble has been in trouble. Their Nook is not nearly as popular as Amazon’s Kindle, and the same-day delivery service provided by Amazon also poses a threat to their shipment of online purchases. In attempt to take back the online market, Barnes & Noble is uniting with Google to give customers a same-day book delivery service.
What Is It?
If a friend recommended a book that you can’t wait to start or you just finished a novel and have nothing to pick up next, this service will be your new best friend. It will allow customers who prefer real books over e-readers to have a book delivered to them within hours.
Barnes & Noble already offers express shipping for members and same-day shipping in Manhattan, but in order to rival Amazon, they need to expand. Currently, they only have 660 retail and 700 college campus stores open, and the Nook business is falling fast. Since it seems as though everything Google touches turns into gold, it is a smart business choice on Barnes & Noble’s part to team up with them.The monster search engine introduced Google Shopping Express last year, but the service has yet to really pick up steam. Despite already partnering with 19 stores including Walgreens, Staples, and Target, the majority of online shoppers still turn to Amazon. So, as of August 7th, readers in Manhattan, West Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area will receive their books bought online within hours. Google has plans to expand into Queens and Brooklyn. Executives of the bookstore chain hope to increase their online reach, while Google hopes to keep customers away from Amazon. It seems to be a mutually beneficial partnership.
Barnes & Noble’s chief merchandising officer Jaime Carey says that the company “sees this as an opportunity to connect more customers to their local Barnes & Noble,” while the chief executive Michael P. Huseby says this “test” with Google is “our attempt to link the digital and the physical.” Tom Fallows, director of product for Google Shopping Express, views the alliance as “a natural fit.” Amazon has yet to comment on the development.
How Will It Work?
Rather than stocking huge warehouses full of merchandise, like Amazon does, Google employees will be on deck in Barnes & Noble stores to pack and ship orders made online. This will help keep more bookstores open. Since Barnes & Noble has needed to close 63 stores in the last five years, this is great news. On the contrary, it could discourage customers in these three areas (and wherever the delivery service will expand to next) from shopping in the store. This could lead to loss of jobs for some staff members. Overall, though, if this is received well, it could do great things for Barnes & Noble’s business.
The service will not be hosted on Barnes & Noble’s site, but rather through the website for Google Shopping Express. There’s also an app available for Android and iPhone. Currently, it is free for members (and you can get a six month free trial!) and $4.99 per delivery per store for everyone else. This is less expensive than Amazon’s offer, which is $5.99 for Prime members and $9.98 for non-members.
What could be next for this duo? Perhaps, if this new business endeavor works out, Google will offer to host the Nook and bring more competition to the Kindle. Boosting Nook sales would be a big help to Barnes & Noble.
For now, we can hope this move will help keep Barnes & Noble afloat. It would be tragic to see them go out of business like Borders did in 2011 (RIP). The more bookstores there are in the world, the better.