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Google-Wal-Mart deal won't stop Amazon's 'retail ascent:' Cowen

Key Points
  • The partnership between Wal-Mart and Google will allow customers to order hundreds of thousands of Wal-Mart products by voice.
  • The move is a strategic step for Wal-Mart, trying to stay competitive with rival Amazon's voice-enabled network Alexa.
  • Google has already partnered with companies like Costco and Target, which offer similar goods as Walmart, with "little to no impact," according to Cowen.
Amazon goes for the throat

Google's partnership with Wal-Mart won't affect Amazon's ascent because similar deals between the search engine and other large retailers have had "little to no impact" on the growth of Amazon's shopping services, according to Cowen research.

The partnership between Wal-Mart and Google, announced Wednesday, will give shoppers the ability to order hundreds of thousands of products from Wal-Mart by voice through Google Express, its online shopping service.

The deal is another strategic step by Wal-Mart to advance its e-commerce operations to compete with Amazon's powerful voice-enabled network Alexa.

Google Express came about in 2013 and has deals with Costco and Target, which offer similar goods as Wal-Mart, Cowen analyst John Blackledge said, but those partnerships have "had little to no impact on Amazon's retail business or the growth of Amazon Prime households."

"While we are encouraged to see Google continue to enhance its eCommerce/Shopping offering, we believe the attention the announcement received was overblown," Blackledge wrote in a note to clients on Thursday.

As of Wednesday, Google also began offering free delivery on Google Express orders so long as the order is above each retailer's minimum threshold.

Amazon said Thursday that its acquisition of Whole Foods will close Monday, promising "more to come," as the internet giant begins to integrate its Prime membership offerings into the Whole Foods network. Prime members will eventually receive "special savings and in-store benefits."

Shares of Amazon pared earlier losses Thursday afternoon and sat down 0.33 percent at 3:09 p.m. ET. Shares of Wal-Mart fell after the announcement of the Amazon-Whole Foods deal closure, now down 1.92 percent.

While attention has largely been focused on Wal-Mart's new opportunities from the deal, Cowen research also noted that Google could see a meaningful uptick in its Express service.

"Of the United States households purchasing groceries online each month (about 12 percent of U.S. households on average), only about 4 percent bought groceries via Google Express in July '17," added Blackledge.

That stands in stark comparison to the 46 percent of online grocery shoppers who said they bought goods on Amazon Prime, according to the Cowen report.

Still, the analyst said he isn't persuaded that the Google-Wal-Mart agreement means much for Amazon.

"Amazon's end to end voice-enabled shopping solution is a significant advantage versus the Wal-Mart/Google pairing in our view. Overall, we do not see the partnership impacting Amazon's US retail biz and/or Prime Sub penetration."

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