Don’t expect Google to compete with Amazon in e-commerce anytime soon

Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc., gestures while speaking during a discussion on artificial intelligence at the Bruegel European economic think tank in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020. Pichai urged the U.S. and European Union to coordinate regulatory approaches on artificial intelligence, calling their alignment critical.

Geert Vanden Wijngaert | Bloomberg | Getty Images

For nearly as long as Google‘s been a publicly traded company, it has attempted various e-commerce efforts that have mostly failed to make much progress. That’s making executives’ latest push difficult to buy but impossible to ignore.

The complications surrounding Google’s history of failed e-commerce attempts became more prominent in 2020 when it couldn’t capture the market when it needed it most. But experts say there’s still hope for the search giant and its cash stockpile to gain some traction. What it needs is a plan firm enough to outlast its past failures.

“While leaders in the space are getting bigger and the bigger, the harder it gets for Google to compete with them,” said e-commerce analyst Juozas Kaziukėnas. “It would take a massive change in the way we [shop] and it’s just unclear what it wants to do to become a serious player in shopping. It looks like they’re shooting for a few different ideas but there’s no master plan for what they want to become when it comes to commerce.”

On the table is millions of dollars and a long-term ability to reel in buyers beyond the pandemic and in an accelerated time frame.

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