Google has begun offering overnight delivery of nonperishable groceries, home goods, small appliances, toys and other items to consumers in six states across the Midwest.
The Google Express delivery service is now available to about 25 million people in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, the company announced Tuesday.
People in these areas can use the service to order products from a range of retailers and department stores, including Costco, Ace Hardware, Kohl's, Barnes & Noble, Fry's Electronics and Toys R Us.
Google's announcement significantly expands the number of areas where people can use Google Express to have items delivered to them from local stores, on the same day or overnight. Previously, the service was available only in six metro areas, including Boston, New York, Chicago and San Francisco.
Google launched Google Express two years ago as a sort of rival to Amazon's hugely successful Prime delivery service. The company is reported to have set aside close to $500 million for getting the service off the ground.
Google currently charges a recurring $10 monthly fee or a $95 annual fee for those who want to sign up for the Express service. Members typically get free shipping and delivery for orders over $15. The company charges a $3 fee per store for orders that are less than $15 before tax.
Nonmembers too can use Google Express to purchase items from local stores. However, Google charges a delivery fee of $4.99 per store for orders totaling $15 or more and a $3 small-order fee for shopping orders that are less than $15. Google offers a three-month free trial for people who want to try out Google Express in areas where the service is currently available.
People can place orders using a computer or by smartphone by downloading the Google Express app for iOS and Android devices.
Google's expansion of Google Express comes even as the company is reportedly planning to start testing delivery of fresh produce and other perishable items later this year.
According to a report in BloombergBusiness, the trials will start in San Francisco and an as yet unnamed second city. Bloomberg quoted a Google executive as saying the company will initially partner with Costco and Whole Foods Market for the new service. As part of the trial, Google will offer same-day delivery of fresh vegetables, fruits and other perishable items purchased from local stores. The move is expected to put Google in more direct competition with Amazon and InstaCart, an online delivery service that promises to deliver fresh groceries within an hour of the order being placed.
Meanwhile, Amazon, considered the undisputed leader in this space, has launched a restaurant delivery service for customers of its Prime Now service. The option is currently available only in select areas of Amazon's hometown of Seattle. Like InstaCart, Amazon says it will deliver food to customers within an hour of the order being placed. The company has not released complete details of its pricing for the service yet beyond noting that it will be available for free for a limited time for Prime members.
Amazon currently charges an annual fee of $99 for membership to its Prime service.