In a move clearly designed to counter the rising power of Amazon in the physical bookselling space, Barnes & Noble has debuted a pilot program with Google for same-day delivery of books in Manhattan, West L.A. and the San Francisco Bay area according to a new report by the New York Times. The trial program pairs Google Shopping Express with Barnes & Noble’s brick-and-mortar retail, but it’s a program that’s unlikely to buoy the sagging fortunes of B&N too much. The effort definitely could help Barnes & Noble shore up its retail losses, which have resulted int he closing of over 60 stores in half a decade, and it could provide a good case study about how companies might make the transition from having physical shopping experiences to the growing trend of consumers opting for the convenience of actually completing their purchases online.
Google and Barnes & Noble are joining forces to tackle their mutual rival Amazon, zeroing in on a service that Amazon has long dominated: the fast, cheap delivery of books. Starting on Thursday, book buyers in Manhattan, West Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area will be able to get same-day deliveries from local Barnes & Noble stores through Google Shopping Express, Google’s fledgling online shopping and delivery service. Google Shopping, which began operations about a year ago, allows online shoppers to order products from stores like Costco, Walgreens, Staples and Target, and have them delivered to their doors within hours. The partnership could help Barnes & Noble make inroads into online sales when its brick-and-mortar business remains stagnant. The company has closed 63 stores in the last five years, including some in bustling areas of Manhattan and Washington, leaving it with a base of about 660 retail stores and 700 college campus stores. Its Nook business fell 22 percent in the fourth quarter compared with the period a year earlier, according its most recent earnings report. Michael P. Huseby, Barnes & Noble’s chief executive, called the arrangement with Google “a test” and said that he viewed it as a way to increase the bookseller’s online reach and improve sales from its physical stores. “It’s our attempt to link the digital and physical,” Mr. Huseby said.