Google Expands Its Shopping Express Service in San Francisco Bay Area

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-09-26

Google Expands Its Shopping Express Service in San Francisco Bay Area

Google is expanding its nascent Shopping Express home delivery service in San Francisco's Bay Area for the second time since it began in March, this time adding order deliveries as far away as San Jose.

The service expansion was announced in a Sept. 25 post by Tom Fallows, the product management director for Google Shopping Express, on the Google Commerce Blog.

"Earlier this year, we invited some Bay Area shoppers to help us test Google Shopping Express," wrote Fallows. "Today, we're excited to make Google Shopping Express available to everyone living or working in our Bay Area delivery zones, from San Francisco to San Jose. This new service brings the speed of the web to the real world by helping you shop your favorite local stores online—in a single place—and get what you need delivered the same day."

Google began its pilot for the service in late March to collect customer reaction and see how it would work on a small scale to start. The idea was to allow online shoppers to make purchases locally and then have them delivered quickly and at low cost. Included in the initial pilot were national chain stores such as Target, Walgreens, Staples, American Eagle and Toys 'R Us/Babies 'R Us, as well as smaller local retailers like San Francisco's Blue Bottle Coffee, the Bay Area's Palo Alto Toy & Sport and Raley's Nob Hill Foods.

The service was then expanded in May as Google continued to test the platform and add more retailers and users. The expanded delivery service added some suburban neighborhoods outside San Francisco that Google initially didn't serve.

The latest expansion will fill in even more areas and serve more customers, according to Google.

Also being launched as part of the latest growth for the service are new Google Shopping Express mobile apps for both Android and iOS so that customers can make their purchases and receive product deliveries even when they are away from their homes or offices, according to Google.

To use the service, shoppers can browse the Websites of participating stores, make their item selections, provide personalized delivery instructions for the third-party couriers who will bring their packages and get their items delivered on the same day. Google continues to seek additional local retailers to join the program and add more shopping options for its online customers.

"Whether you've run out of something essential or need to get a last-minute gift, you can shop your favorite stores all in one place, and get everything delivered in just a few hours," wrote Fallows. Some of the new retailers that are now participating in the delivery service are DODOcase, Guitar Center, L’Occitane, REI and Whole Foods Market.

Google Expands Its Shopping Express Service in San Francisco Bay Area

Product prices for the items ordered and delivered through the service are identical to prices that consumers will find in their local store, wrote Fallows. Shoppers can also add their retailer loyalty program numbers at checkout to take advantage of member prices.

Deliveries can be scheduled from early mornings until 9 p.m., according to the program. "To make this all work, our engineers put their heads together to figure out the most efficient way to get all the packages delivered across town in the delivery windows promised," wrote Fallows. "And be sure to keep your eye out for our new hybrid fleet around town."

Google is offering a free six-month membership with unlimited same-day delivery for users who sign up to try the service before Dec. 31, according to the post.

The fledgling Google delivery service was first rumored in early March as a way for the search giant to expand more into the turf of online retailer

Google certainly has been experimenting with e-commerce for a long time, with its Google Payments, Google Wallet and Google Checkout products. In February, Google bolstered its online sales capabilities by acquiring Channel Intelligence, which lets consumers buy products directly through product pages on Websites. One of the company's products, its Buy Now app, shows potential buyers a dynamically updated list of online retailers that have an advertised product in stock, where the consumer can purchase the item instantly with a click.

Not all of those efforts have been successful, however. In May, Google announced that it will end its Google Checkout service on Nov. 20. Since its creation in 2006, Checkout has allowed customers to make purchases of services or physical goods from online vendors, but it has apparently outlived its usefulness for the search giant because of a lack of satisfactory demand. Instead, Google is expanding its related Google Wallet payment services that can be used for online apps and other purchases, but not for the payment of physical goods from Websites.

The planned demise of Google Checkout comes after the search giant wasn't able to make it as popular as the dominant online payment vendor, PayPal.

Same-day delivery service certainly isn't an invention of Google. In October 2009, Amazon launched same-day delivery services in seven major U.S. cities as it expanded its buying options for its customers.

This is not the first time that Google has dabbled with the idea of same-day delivery. The idea has at least been in discussions since late 2011, when the company began its Google Product Search service.

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