December 7, 2011
By now, you’ve likely read a whole host of stories about Google’s reported play at competing with Amazon’s Prime "one-day shipping" program. The crux of it? The internet giant is planning to leverage its local search product to offer consumers a same-day shipping option if they purchase from a participating retailer.
There are plenty of challenges to this business model, many of which are covered here and here–logistics, data sharing, and cost structure are just three key issues that Google would need to tackle head-on to make such a program viable. Nonetheless, it got me thinking… there’s an aspect of this proposed plan that is awfully intriguing from a Personal Identity Management (PIDM) perspective.
Google could effectively build the first purchase transaction personal data locker. Here's how:
- In order to facilitate delivery, Google would have to capture transaction data at the product level.
- This would let consumers maintain "anytime-anywhere" access to their purchase history. Imagine never again rooting around for a receipt to return an item, or trying to remember which size bags your vacuum cleaner takes.
- Meanwhile, tying actual purchase data to search behavior gives Google a whole new view of the customer behavior cycle, and would measurably improve search algorithms across the board, while improving ad targeting inside a user’s other Google Accounts products. Of course, this is a major win for what's clearly the most important part of Google's business.
- Then, there's the enrichment of Google's user accounts with offline data. For example, while it’s likely that Google can already extrapolate a user’s mailing address today, it’s probably not persistently attached to her Google Account unless she’s using Google Checkout or Wallet. But by offering a delivery service, Google will be able to legitimately connect a physical address to an individual. For both opted-in consumers and for Google, this could mean personalized "dayparting" — targeted, schedule-based messaging that incorporates home and/or office addresses, commute schedules, and personal interests.
- Speaking of Google Wallet… I imagine that the company would evolve that service to be usable remotely as well as at the point-of-sale (effectively combining Checkout and Wallet), and would encourage consumers to use that service if they want to take advantage of one-day shipping. Again, a mutually beneficial value prop: seamless utility for consumers (one login that contains all my shipping addresses, payment cards, and transaction history) and marketshare capture away from PayPal for Google.
So, theoretically, Google could really create the first cross-channel, multi-use, bi-directional purchase transaction data locker. And so long as they're unerringly transparent about the data being captured and how it's being used, they have a shot at taking a major step towards becoming a leader in Personal Identity Management.