Google has launched a same-day shopping and delivery service for residents of the Bay Area.
Dubbed Google Shopping Express, the platform includes products from big-box stores such as Target, Staples, and Walgreens, and smaller, boutique outlets such as Blue Bottle Coffee. Users will place an order, select a delivery window, and see the product on their doorstep the same day.
In a blog post, Tom Fallows, a director at Google Shopping Express, said Google was "still working out our long-term pricing plan." But beginning this week, testers will get free delivery for a full six months. Some caveats: You've got to live in or around San Francisco, and you'll have to fill out this online form in order to be selected. No word yet on when Google might attempt a wider roll-out of Shopping Express, but later this year seems like a safe bet to us.
So what's Google – which remains, with a few notable exceptions, mostly a Web services company – doing dabbling in delivery? Well, the short answer is that the Mountain View giant is attempting to head off similar ventures from its competitors. Amazon, for instance, has long sold and shipped a wide range of non-book items, from deodorant to trash bags and Ninja Blenders.
"[We] see Google over time expanding toward a more traditional e-commerce marketplace model," Baird Equity Research analyst Colin Sebastian wrote in a note to investors obtained by Investor's Business Daily. "We believe the new service is consistent with Google's ambitions to create a larger commerce platform, bring more local product inventory into search, and also counter competition from Amazon and eBay."
Google Shopping Express will be a boon to couch potatoes who can't be bothered to drive to Walgreens to get a can of shaving cream – that much is clear. But as Alexis Tsotsis of TechCrunch notes, Google Shopping Express will also help retailers. The benefits, she writes, include "increasing purchase volume from existing customers because of convenience."
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