Google Shopping Express Expands To L.A., Manhattan - What About Self-Driving Cars?



Google has extended its Google Shopping Express service from the San Francisco Bay area, which it began offering last year, to Manhattan and the Westside of Los Angeles. It makes it possible to order online and have the items delivered from favorite local stores within hours. Add a self-driving car into the equation, and Google creates an entirely new business model for local online companies.

Browse products online and drop them into a shopping cart. Take advantage of the service without paying a surcharge or mark-up on products without going into the physical store. The products cost the same price as in stores, even when discounts and accrued loyalty points apply.

In the Los Angeles area, shoppers in Culver City, Inglewood, Marina Del Rey, Santa Monica, Venice, West Los Angeles, and Westwood can use the service through Costco, Guitar Center, L’Occitane, Smart & Final, Staples, Target, Toys R Us and Babies R Us, and Walgreens. Google will soon expand delivery to other parts of Los Angeles, Bel-Air, Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista and West Hollywood.

Imagine a Google self-driving car pulling into the driveway at home with a bag full of medical supplies or groceries, or into your work parking lot with a new button-down white shirt after you have spilled a cup of coffee in the car on the way to work. You meet the car in the driveway or parking lot and tap a code into the app on your smartphone or tablet, which opens the door and confirms you received the order.

If the car makes several deliveries while out and about, no problem. Lockbox compartments inside the car, each with their own code, provide security. We could see this part of the scenario soon -- although today it seems completely fictitious but not farfetched.

Going forward, more retailers will blend online and offline shopping into one experience. eMarketer expects U.S. retail ecommerce sales to rise 15.5% this year. Of the 219.4 million U.S. Internet users ages 14 and older, the analyst firm estimates 196.6 million, or 89.6%, to shop online this year, compared with 163.2 million who will go on to complete a purchase digitally.

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