The Wall Street Journal directly compares a possible Google Marketplace with Amazon Prime (which costs $79 in the US to access free next day delivery). The WSJ says that the Google Marketplace would enable major retailers and shippers to create a service that lets consumers shop for goods on the Web and receive orders within a day for a low fee.
Scot Wingo points out that Google have the four main constituents needed for a marketplace – Buyers, Sellers, Catalog (Google Product Search) and a Payment system. If they do go ahead the WSJ suggests it would begin with a trial in the San Francisco Bay area in conjunction with retailers such as Macy’s, Gap and OfficeMax.
The Google Marketplace would join the dots between Google Shopping, Retailers Inventory and available shipping options to determine if the product could be delivered next day. This suggests technology similar to eBay’s Milo which brings local retailers inventory availability onto the web. However Scot Wingo also points out that retailers aren’t set up to accept orders over the web (a technology issue) and that also local retailers “typically have a) terrible inventory systems and b) little to no outbound shipping capabilities”.
It’s very doubtful that in the immediate future a Google Marketplace would embrace small retailers or be available outside of the US. However if trials are successful then undoubtedly it would be rolled out in more countries.
The big question has to be whether smaller retailers would ever be included or if it would be limited to larger retailers with stock held in multiple locations across the US. Having multiple locations is a very different requirement in the US to the UK – in the UK pretty much anything can be shipped anywhere in the country within 24 hours so long as it’s in stock. In the US shipping coast to coast within 24 hours across six time zones isn’t quite as simple.
However this pans out it’s going to send an electric shock through Amazon and eBay management. A Google marketplace is possibly the biggest threat to the incumbent marketplaces, although the threat may be tempered if the offer is limited to large retailers with multiple locations.
If smaller retailers can cut a slice of the action I’d predict that they’ll leave the incumbent marketplaces in droves. I’d recommend against this though, regardless how much business you gain from Goodle why would you cut off the income from existing marketplaces? If you do get the opportunity to add Google as a marketplace look at it as an addition, not a replacement for eBay and Amazon.