Google To Expand Same-Day Local Delivery Pilot


Google is reportedly planning to broaden its San Francisco-based packaged delivery pilot programme, which began in March

Google’s 2-month-old pilot project to provide same-day delivery service for online shoppers in some areas of San Francisco is reportedly being expanded to more Bay Area neighborhoods.

The Google Shopping Express service, which was unveiled at the end of March in select areas, will now be available across the entire Bay Area, according to a 23 May report by Mashable that was based on anonymous sources.

Expansion to suburban areas

The expanded delivery service will be “filling in many of the suburban areas outside San Francisco that Google initially left out at launch”, according to the story. “Google will start accepting sign-ups for beta testers in the additional neighborhoods later this week or early next week.”

Google did not immediately respond to an eWEEK request for comment about the report.

Google, search engines © Annette Shaff Shutterstock 2012Mashable reported that its source said the nascent delivery service has “been doing well enough and worked out the kinks to expand a little more” ,while the number of orders per day is steadily increasing as has the team of third-party delivery people and services that are carrying out the deliveries.

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 including 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 initial pilot area included the city of San Francisco and the peninsula from San Mateo to San Jose.

The programme is initially free for participants in the pilot, but will feature delivery charges in the future. Test participants must be at least 18 years old to participate.

Personalised delivery

By signing up as testers, participants receive emails featuring product promotions, new merchant additions and other details about the programme, according to Google.

To use the service, shoppers can browse the websites of participating stores, make their item selections, provide personalised delivery instructions for the couriers who will bring their packages and get their items delivered on the same day. Google is continuing to seek additional local retailers to join the programme and add more shopping options for its online customers.

The fledgling Google delivery service was first rumoured in early March as a way for the search giant to expand more into the turf of online retailer Under the programme, Google has arranged for third parties, such as couriers, to pick the products up from local stores and deliver the items to shoppers.

Google is always looking for ways to expand its markets, and the retail world is closely aligned with its search services as consumers go to Google to search for products, which they then purchase elsewhere. The concept of expanding its reach into retail sales could help Google close that gap.

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.

Google Checkout failure

Not all of those efforts have been successful, however. Just this week, Google announced that it is ending its Google Checkout service on 20 November.

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 US 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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Originally published on eWeek.

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