Google’s eponymous home delivery service, Google Express, is expanding its reach. On Tuesday, the Mountain View, California-based giant said that 13 new states in the Southeast and Northwest would join the scores of others already that already participate, and that the growth would be the service’s biggest yet. It now reaches more than 70 million people, Google said, and covers around 90 percent of the continental United States.
The new states include part of Alabama, Utah, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Wyoming, and Washington. They join the 13 states Google added in late September, mainly along the East Coast.
Google Express lets you schedule the delivery of nonperishable groceries, health products, electronics, office supplies, home decor, pet products, and more from the web or mobile app for iOS and Android. The stocks of local retailers supply the service’s virtual cornucopia, while various Google contractors — among them FedEx, UPS, Dynamex, Lasership, and OnTrac — handle the logistics. Depending on when you order and where you live, you’re afforded the option of same-day delivery, overnight delivery, or deliveries within a two-day window.
So far, Google has more than 50 merchant partners nationwide including Costco, Guitar Center, Payless ShoeSource, Kohl’s, Walgreens, L’Occitane, PetSmart, Road Runner Sports, Fry’s Electronics, and Sur La Table. And it expects to recruit more “in the coming months.”
Express may be cut from the same cloth as its foremost competitor, Amazon’s Prime Now, but it’s a fundamentally different product. Prime Now, which offers same-day delivery in a number of major metropolitan areas across the country, ships items from a centralized warehouse and requires a subscription. Members of Amazon Prime, Amazon’s $100-a-year premier shopping tier that includes free two-day shipping, access to Amazon’s video streaming service, and other benefits, offers deliveries within one hour for $8 or for free within a two-hour window. Google Express offers an optional membership for $10 per month, or $95 per year, for customers who’d prefer to save on delivery.
Amazon Prime Now isn’t without its advantages. Minimum orders are a flat $20 but vary on Google Express, which is at the mercy of merchants’ requirements — most charge between $15 and $35. And Amazon ships frozen and refrigerated items, a market which Google declined to pursue earlier this year after pilot programs in San Francisco and Los Angeles proved costlier than anticipated. But Brian Elliot, Google Express’s general manager, said the decisions made around Google Express have been the interest of sustainability. “We really wanted something where we can make sure we have a nationally scalable product that can reach everybody,” he said.
Google’s near-term Express ambitions include recruiting additional retailers, and it intends to cover the entire continental U.S. by the end of this year. Google has made inroads in the shelf-to-door retail market, but it’s got a ways to go before it begins to encroach on incumbents like Amazon. A recent survey found that more than half (55 percent) of U.S. online shoppers search for products directly on Amazon, while search engines like Google and Yahoo saw declines.