Google Making Inroads Into Supply Chain and Logistics

I’ve made many supply chain and logistics predictions over the years, and have been wrong many times, including this prediction from December 2014: Google will acquire a logistics service provider (3PL) and/or a logistics software vendor. Here is what I wrote at the time:

It’s no secret that Google and are continuously looking to outmaneuver each other, especially in logistics-related areas such as same-day delivery and drones…In short, logistics is becoming a greater competitive differentiator for companies across all industries, so if Google wants to seriously compete with Amazon on that front, it needs to become a 3PL, and enhance its logistics software and technology capabilities too.

Earlier that same month, we published an interesting guest commentary by Anthony Vitiello, Director of Marketing at UltraShipTMS at the time, titled, “The Google TMS?” Here are some excerpts:

Is Google TMS a serious possibility? This we know: Google is a company on the move, making inroads into businesses far outside Internet search, and it’s well equipped to succeed…Consider that Google already delivers numerous applications and services that it could easily repurpose as the primary building blocks of a TMS…Google Maps, Google Navigation, and Gmail could be strung together to build routing guides and tender loads to carriers. Google Correlate is a tool that identifies patterns related to real world trends, which I suspect would be useful at assisting route selection based on any number of specified business requirements. Bake in the SKU-level information already cataloged by Google Shopping and you have some pretty solid visibility for load building, track and trace, etc.

While it has taken several years, and our predictions didn’t hit the bullseye exactly, there’s no denying that Google is making inroads into the supply chain and logistics industry. 

Back in October 2019, as reported by Jennifer Elias at CNBC, “Google parent company Alphabet held a secret ‘logistics summit’ [that month] with reps from FedEx and [, Deliv, Flexe and a former Walmart SVP].” According to the article:

The event, which was held in Silicon Valley, was called the Alphabet Advanced Logistics Summit and hosted by Alphabet’s research and development unit, “X,” and its recently spun out infrastructure company Sidewalk Infrastructure Partners, the company confirmed to CNBC. The objective was to explore potential business models and investment opportunities in the e-commerce space with a focus in logistics and fulfillment, according to three people who attended and photos viewed by CNBC.

In addition to forming partnerships with supply chain and logistics software vendors (mostly focused on Google Cloud and AI and analytics tools ), here are some notable announcements Google has made just in the past year:

The most recent announcement came last week with Google’s introduction of its Last Mile Fleet Solution. Here’s an excerpt from the announcement:

Last Mile Fleet Solution is available to help fleet operators create exceptional delivery experiences, from ecommerce order to doorstep delivery. The solution allows your business to optimize across every stage of the last mile delivery journey: capturing valid addresses, planning delivery routes, efficiently navigating drivers, tracking shipment progress, and analyzing fleet performance. Last Mile Fleet Solution provides reliable infrastructure that scales with you as your business grows–all with predictable pricing per delivery. It builds on one of our existing mobility solutions, On-demand Rides & Deliveries, which is used by leading ride-hailing and on-demand delivery operators around the world.

There are no shortages of startups in the supply chain and logistics industry, but there is none bigger than Google at the moment. The company is placing bets on multiple fronts: as a hosting/AI/analytics technology partner to existing supply chain software vendors and logistics service providers; as a competitor in the market with its own software solutions, such as its digital twin and fleet management offerings; and via its emerging technologies such as autonomous driving (although Waymo is no longer part of Google, it is still under the Alphabet umbrella).    

Will Google ultimately acquire a leading supply chain software company or 3PL too? I’m keeping my chip on that bet too. What have I got to lose?

(I might also place a bet on Microsoft, just to keep it interesting).