Google opened its Shopping Express service on Thursday, offering same-day local delivery to a handful of retailers that want to test the service in the San Francisco Peninsula, from San Mateo to San Jose.
The company hopes to make it possible to get same-day delivery for items that consumers order online at a low cost.
Retail stores participating in the beta include American Eagle, Office Depot, Staples, Toys "R" Us, Babies "R" Us, Blue Bottle Coffee, Raley's Nob Hill Foods, Palo Alto Sport Shop & Toy World, Target, and Walgreens.
An ecommerce marketplace will likely become the next step, according to Robert W. Baird & Co. Analyst Colin Sebastian. "As Google has continued to evolve its Commerce initiatives over the past three to four years, we noted that Shopping Express is a logical step in leveraging the company’s broad merchant and consumer relationships," Sebastian writes. "If successful, the new service could also compete more directly with Amazon (Prime shipping service) and eBay Now (eBay’s nascent local commerce initiative). Perhaps more importantly, we still see Google over time expanding toward a more traditional e-commerce marketplace model."
Through Shopping Express, consumers find what they need online, select a delivery window, and get it delivered the same day. The delivery model fits in with Google Shopping and product listing ads, but the real question becomes whether Google will begin leasing its driverless cars to make those deliveries.
Google isn't new to innovative ecommerce options. In November 2012, the company acquired Canadian-based BufferBox, physical lockers for online orders.