|Courtesy of thenextweb.com|
By Joseph A.
Google Express -- a same day delivery service for non-perishable items including clothes, toys, electronics, and books -- is now being offered in parts of Central and Western Michigan, giving online shoppers another way to buy items without setting foot in a brick-and-mortar store.
The service, which originated in San Francisco in 2013, has already been made available in Boston, Chicago, New York, San Jose, Washington D.C., and Los Angeles. It launched today in smaller Midwest cities including Lansing, Mt. Pleasant, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids.
"Our goal with Google Express is to offer a great shopping experience and connect people with their favorite stores helping them get what they need, when they want it,” said Brian Elliott, Google Express' general manager. "Today, we're very excited to be further expanding our efforts and bringing fast delivery to over 25 million people in the Midwest."
Google seeks to appeal to tech-savvy shoppers who don't want -- or don't have time – to go to actual stores, and are willing to pay a delivery fee. All the while, Google is also taking on the largest Internet-based retailer in the U.S., Amazon.com.
Customers can order items through Google Express on their electronic devices from a list of more than a dozen retailers -- including Costco, Kohls, Pet Smart, Barnes & Noble, and Toys R’ Us -- and the stores send the products directly to the shoppers’ homes.
In Northern California, Google Express is also testing expedited delivery of fresh food and groceries.
A one-year Express membership costs $95, with free delivery on orders $15 or more and a free three-month trial for new customers. Orders less than $15 will be charged a delivery fee of $3. Shoppers who do not wish to become members can also buy items, but the shipping charge starts at $4.99.
What’s Next for Google Express?
In many ways, e-commerce presents an opportunity for Google and other tech companies to tap into the trend of online sales and potentially leverage their other products and services. They can also utilize information gathered from e-commerce activity to predict what a customer might want by analyzing previous purchases.
Online sales have been trending upwards since 2008, increasing from about $36.2 billion to $80.3 billion in 2015.
Google has started looking at easier ways to shop with smartphones, as mobile shopping searches and actual purchases have increased.
In addition to bringing in revenue for Google, the delivery service also may help boost sales of participating retailers or help lock them into the convenience of return sales and regular purchases.
Tom Scott, Senior Vice President of the Michigan Retailers Association, said it's too early to tell whether Google’s new service will help or hurt local retailers overall.
"There's no doubt online shopping has cut into traditional brick-and-mortar selling," he said. "But most brick-and-mortar stores have responded by selling online as well. All retailing is becoming a mix. Everything is sort of blending. We need to see how they develop that program."
Google did not release a timetable or map for exactly when and where it would roll out its delivery service next, but recently a spokesman for the company said it likely will add delivery to other areas of Michigan, including Detroit, and other cities nationwide if it develops and expands the program.
Do you think Google Express is something you would be interested in using? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below!