Google Shopping Express dips toe in same-day home delivery

Wants to ape Amazon and eBay, not Webvan or Kozmo


Google will try to beat Amazon and eBay at their own games with a trial same-day home delivery service for online shoppers that will see Google-branded vans dropping off goods down the length of Silicon Valley.

Dubbed Shopping Express, the service will allow consumers to order goods from national retailers such as Target, Walgreens, and Staples, as well as a few local retailers, and have those purchases delivered to their door within the city of San Francisco, and down the Peninsula from San Mateo to San José.

"We're still working out our long-term pricing plan but early testers will get six months of free, unlimited same-day delivery. The pilot will expand as we work out the kinks," said Tom Fallows, product management director of Google Shopping Express.

It's a bold move for the search giant. Amazon already has its Prime fast-delivery service and has trialed same-day delivery before. eBay also lets people get their mitts on new purchases fast – but Google's move plans something somewhat faster.

Same-day delivery was an early choice of business plans in the dotcom bubble at the end of the last century. Here on the West Coast, Webvan was set up, while New Yorkers got Kozmo and Urbanfetch, which promised delivery within certain key cities. They all burned through VC cash and then burned completely out as uneconomic.

Google will have to come up with a pricing plan that makes a service like this viable and competitive, and that's going to take some doing. Amazon and others have built up a nationwide distribution system, and beating them is going to be both tricky and costly.

Google's key bet is that Shopping Express will bring free-spending customers back into its fold. At the moment, an Amazon buyer doesn't need Google for any part of a transaction, but this service could get the Chocolate Factory back on the web lists for people with money to spend.

The question is whether Google can do this economically. One idea discussed here in Vulture Annex is that Google might apply some of its self-driving technology to the problem in the future, and is using Shopping Express as a dress rehearsal – but there's no way risk-averse Californians will OK that just yet. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Amazon not happy with antitrust law targeting Amazon
    We assume the world's smallest violin is available right now on Prime

    Updated Amazon has blasted a proposed antitrust law that aims to clamp down on anti-competitive practices by Big Tech.

    The American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) led by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and House Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) is a bipartisan bill, with Democrat and Republican support in the Senate and House. It is still making its way through Congress.

    The bill [PDF] prohibits certain "online platforms" from unfairly promoting their own products and services in a way that prevents or hampers third-party businesses in competing. Said platforms with 50 million-plus active monthly users in the US or 100,000-plus US business users, and either $550 billion-plus in annual sales or market cap or a billion-plus worldwide users, that act as a "critical trading partner" for suppliers would be affected. 

    Continue reading
  • I was fired for blowing the whistle on cult's status in Google unit, says contractor
    The internet giant, a doomsday religious sect, and a lawsuit in Silicon Valley

    A former Google video producer has sued the internet giant alleging he was unfairly fired for blowing the whistle on a religious sect that had all but taken over his business unit. 

    The lawsuit demands a jury trial and financial restitution for "religious discrimination, wrongful termination, retaliation and related causes of action." It alleges Peter Lubbers, director of the Google Developer Studio (GDS) film group in which 34-year-old plaintiff Kevin Lloyd worked, is not only a member of The Fellowship of Friends, the exec was influential in growing the studio into a team that, in essence, funneled money back to the fellowship.

    In his complaint [PDF], filed in a California Superior Court in Silicon Valley, Lloyd lays down a case that he was fired for expressing concerns over the fellowship's influence at Google, specifically in the GDS. When these concerns were reported to a manager, Lloyd was told to drop the issue or risk losing his job, it is claimed. 

    Continue reading
  • UK competition watchdog seeks to make mobile browsers, cloud gaming and payments more competitive
    Investigation could help end WebKit monoculture on iOS devices

    The United Kingdom's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) on Friday said it intends to launch an investigation of Apple's and Google's market power with respect to mobile browsers and cloud gaming, and to take enforcement action against Google for its app store payment practices.

    "When it comes to how people use mobile phones, Apple and Google hold all the cards," said Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, in a statement. "As good as many of their services and products are, their strong grip on mobile ecosystems allows them to shut out competitors, holding back the British tech sector and limiting choice."

    The decision to open a formal investigation follows the CMA's year-long study of the mobile ecosystem. The competition watchdog's findings have been published in a report that concludes Apple and Google have a duopoly that limits competition.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022