Google Quietly Rolls Out Reserve, and What That Means For Merchants

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It wasn’t a flashy announcement, but a quiet launch of a dressed down webpage and a few title changes on Linkedin. Few journalists even bothered to pick it up.

Google Reserve aims to enhance its classic Maps tool with more functionality. First, Google set its sights on fitness. The current version of Reserve is very much about the real-time booking of fitness classes around the country through its Maps tool.

Google has slowly been turning its consumer real estate into a commerce engine that closes the loop. Early integration for Reserve leveraged the inventory and services of third party providers Booker, BookingBug, Front Desk, HomeAdvisor, MyTime, Pingup, Schedulicity, Setster and Simplybook.me.

Though it would be foolhardy to believe Google’s ambition stopped there.

Google will add incremental services on its properties to gather more customer purchase data. Want to order a pizza from Google Now? How about scheduling a delivery for an item you’re looking at on Google Shopping?

In this way Google is coupling its scale with the rise of online commerce for brick and mortar to capture item level purchase data it has struggled to collect for the past two decades. As we order – and pay for – an increasing number of goods and services online, Google will build better profiles about its users, driving its own advertising revenue.

Silver lining?

Merchants can expect Google to eventually compete with third party booking services, driving down costs. If Google owns the customers, and is collecting more customer data than the third party providers, they will develop service offerings of their own, subsidized by their ad revenues.

That’s why we think services like online ordering will be nearly free in the next 5 years. So don’t fret if you’re wondering if any of these growing trends seem unsustainable today.

 

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