Sir, Google’s deal with Carrefour is further evidence that technology companies play an increasing role as intermediary in the consumer buying process. The billion dollar question is: how quickly can retailers respond to this trend towards home-based, digitally enabled convenience? And how will traditional retailers manoeuvre their brands and partnerships to protect their market share?
Amazon and Google have different strengths, but they have both placed emphasis on creating an all-encompassing relationship with consumers directly in their homes and across all aspects of their lives. With their vast investment capacity they are extending their reach from being search engines and booksellers to controlling our heating, ordering takeaway, connecting to our bank accounts and filling our kitchen cupboards.
Amazon treads an interesting line between being a retailer in its own right but also a marketplace for existing retailers and consumer brands. The extension of this premise to grocery has encouraged its move to buy Whole Foods and launch AmazonFresh and Amazon Pantry. Google lacks the same retail infrastructure and is more likely to partner with retailers and consumer brands to increase the number of touchpoints it has with consumers in their home via online and voice-activated platforms. Both companies pose important questions for grocery and convenience retailers. To compete or partner will be a key decision in the very near future.
Dan Read, partner at UK law firm TLT