Google Eyes Convergence Around Web Commerce
Speaking last week at Web 2.0 Expo, Osama Bedier, vice president
of payments at Google, said the convergence of three trends affecting the
web — mobile, local and personal — is leading to an “inflection point” that
promises to bring about a “great leap forward” across commerce.
said the overall web experience for shopping hasn’t changed much since its
arrival in the mid-90s. For example, 75 percent of e-commerce buyers often
get ads for something they already bought. At the same time, the web’s potential
to more fully connect with consumers is underscored by stats indicating consumers
are 20 times more likely to buy something a friend has recommended.
Bedier said the convergence of three forces — mobility, locality and personalization
— around smartphones “is bridging the gap between online
and offline in a really big way. It has the promise to bring the best of both
worlds. Online, you get unlimited inventory and the best pricing. Offline,
you get to touch and feel the product and you get to take it home immediately
Already tapping this opportunity is Dominos in the U.K., which
gets a third of its delivery orders online. Another is Tesco with a popular
app that allows consumers to scan grocery items in the store and put it in
an online grocery cart for an immediate one-click checkout.
But Mr. Bedier
said real progress will only come after three challenges are solved:
- Payments need to be completely digital: Accessible payment methods
- Inventory needs to live in the cloud: Consumers should be able to
find any item in any store, online or offline.
- Identity needs to be interoperable: Signing up for store credit
cards to gain personalization needs to be a thing of the past. Said Mr. Bedier, “Identity
in this day and age — where you have so many profiles all over the
place — needs to work seamlessly across sites, across merchants, across
If achieved, commerce may return to the experience of shopping at a local corner
store, where the owner knows customers’ names and, often, desires, he states.
As an example, if he’s shared his identity and location, Mr. Bedier is greeted
by name and offered suggestions catered to him. A shopping list has been created
for items he’s out of and may also include ingredients on recipes he likes
on epicurous.com. He adds, “And that shopping list transforms into an
in-store map where I navigate in the most efficient way possible.”
If an item is
out of stock, he scans the barcode to have it delivered to his house or to
find out where else he can buy it. When checking out, he avoids the cash register
by paying through the phone.
Still, the technology needs to converge.
“This is not about any app or
any one site. It’s not about any one company,” said
Mr. Bedier. “It’s about us working together to overcome these challenges,
to pull these technologies together and bring commerce — not just e-commerce
or m-commerce- – to the fold.”
- Web 2.0 Expo SF 2011: Osama Bedier – YouTube
- Google VP says e-commerce in ‘radical transition’ – Computer World
Discussion Questions: What do you think of Osama Bedier’s vision for the future convergence of commerce? Which of the three web forces mentioned — mobile, local and personal — will likely prove to be the biggest stumbling block in reaching his vision?