February 27, 2013
Back in 1990, Walmart suprassed Kmart in sales. In 1992, it passed up Sears. By 2011, it had higher worldwide sales than the combined total sales of the next six biggest retailers: Kroger, Target, Walgreens, Costco, Home Depot and CVS. That same year, Amazon was 15th on the list of top retailers. This year, it’ll likely end up in the 7th spot, just a few billion behind Target. But is Google stealing online retail from Amazon?
“Amazon is bigger than Lowe’s, Best Buy, Safeway, Macy’s and Rite Aid, not to mention Kmart and Sears (now both part of the same company). Some Wall Street analysts believe Amazon’s sales could yet triple by 2016, which would make Walmart and Amazon the only two true rivals in retail,” writes Wired.
If Amazon is ever to overtake Walmart for top retail spot, or if it’s even to keep growing, it’ll have to fend off Google, a company displaying an “increasingly aggressive effort to steal online retail from Amazon,” turning this into “one of the most intriguing business battles of the year, and not just because of the sight of two behemoths pounding on each other. Google’s unique position in the Internet’s infrastructure means that it can count on more than its own resources to take on Amazon,” suggests the article.
Other competitors can take aim at Amazon from the safety net Google provides. For example, “San Francisco-based Inkling is specifically shooting for Amazon’s book business… each of (Inkling’s) books is divided into chapters, and each chapter is divided into cards. A card contains what amounts to one quantum of useful information. Cards themselves are viewable for free on a limited basis; readers can buy Inkling’s books by the chapter. Each card also has its own URL, which means Inkling’s cards are what Google indexes,” explains Wired.
“Inkling is banking on the quality of the information in its cards to rise to the top of Google search results (and generate attention on social media) to get Inkling’s books noticed. People aren’t going to discover content through Inkling, MacInnis says. They’re going to discover Inkling through content.”
If the websites behind Google provide a compelling experience, they could draw consumers who are most interested in getting their products at the best prices, when they want them, from a source they trust (whether or not that source is Amazon).
“Amazon can show they’re a friend to small and medium-sized businesses by offering them a platform that allows them to sell,” says Bigcommerce CEO Eddie Machaalani. “What they don’t do is allow you to control your own brand.”