Exclusive First Look: Google Shopping Express – Google’s new same-day delivery offering

April 24, 2013


In late March, Google unveiled their new same-day delivery service – Google Shopping Express (GSE for short).  The program is in test mode in the San Francisco/Bay area and previously was tested heavily by Googlers.

We were one of the first early testers added to the program yesterday and immediately placed an order with the help of a friend in the shipping zone.

In this post, we’ll walk you through the complete experience from shopping to delivery in a complete tour of the GSE service.  The tour is very detailed so before we get into that, I wanted to point out the highlights and learnings from the exercise.

Google Shopping Express (GSE) Headlines….It ROCKS!

  • While we had high expectations for the program, we were blown away by the level of service: If you need a product delivered to you ASAP – this is a tremendous service.  Shopping, tracking, delivery were all 100% nailed.
  • Same-day delivery is $4.99/package, however, GSE has a Prime-like subscription program (free for first 6 months of test period) that I signed up for and got free delivery
  • Google seems to be using 1800courier for their delivery – the courier was wearing a GSE shirt and the package presentation was great.
  • The courier mentioned he was doing 50-60 deliveries a day!
  • From order to delivery took less than 2hrs.
  • My only concern with the service is that it’s so good and ‘white glove’ today, I worry that the economics aren’t sustainable and Google is forced to turn back some of this. Anyone remember Kozmo or UrbanFetch?
  • Kudos to the team @Google -you guys have nailed this service.  My only request: expand nation-wide quickly.

The biggest revelation/excitement about GSE for me is that Google has finally crossed the chasm and opened a 100% marketplace.  Yes it’s local, but that’s actually harder than a national marketplace.  I don’t know if Google will ‘go there’, but they have proven with GSE they have the ability.  We’ve long been believers they would need to ‘go there’ to counter the momentum that Amazon has.

The other thing I found interesting is that @ Google, the mantra is “mobile first”.  The entire GSE experience was web based.  There’s no iPhone/Android app that I can find.  The experience worked well from iPhone/Android/iPad, but it was interesting to me this wasn’t an app, which was the approach eBay Now took.

The GSE Detailed Tour

There are four parts to this deep dive into GSE:

  1. The fictional scenario
  2. The GSE Shopping Experience
  3. After the sale – tracking and a big surprise
  4. Post sale – the delivery

Tour part 1:  Fictional scenario

I’m a work-from home dad based out of SFO and my wife works down in the Bay.  I wake up on Tuesday April 23rd and have back-to-back conference calls.  I’m working away and during my 1-2pm conference call my wife texts to remind me:

  • We are out of dog food
  • We are having friends over and need some crackers and rigatoni for the meal
  • Our son decided to clean the bath tub with his favourite Star Wars toothbrush and when I made him throw it away, he broke into tears – no way he’ll go to bed tonight unless we solve this problem.

What can I do??? I need four items by dinner and I’m booked solid!!

GSE to the rescue.

Tour part 2: The GSE Shopping Experience

While on my conference call, I fire up GSE.  The experience is very much a marketplace type model.  After setting my delivery area to SFO, I can search broadly, shop by retailer, browse by category, etc.  I quickly realise that the retailer Nob Hill Foods has all of the items I am looking for which is great as I’m trying to get $10+ from one merchant to reduce costs.  Here’s a look at that experience:


I load up my cart with the four items and am offered same day delivery free for 6 months.  Note that payment is offered via Google Wallet throughout the service, here too:


Now I am presented with the final step before checkout.  Notice:

  • I can select the time window I want.  It’s 2pm, so I pick the 4-9 window and cross my fingers.
  • There are instructions for the courier – you can check a box to allow them to drop off in a safe spot if you are not home (or not)
  • This item is $10.39 with free shipping:


Tour part 3: After the sale: Tracking and a big surprise!

 Immediately after the sale, I’m sent this order and also the after checkout page to both summarize and track my order:

One of the cool features of the tracking is I can see my destination (the red marker on the map) and the source (the A on the map).  It also tells me the status of three sub parts of the process : Ordered, Packaged and Delivery.  Here you can see my order landed at 2:30pm and is estimated 4-9.

What happened next literally blew my mind.  It turned out that the Nob Hill Foods in location A (San Carlos?) did not have the dog food.  GSE detected this and routed the order to another store at location B (Mountain View).   GSE alerted this to me and started to track the split delivery like this:


Here in the process:

  • Package 1: Ordered at 2:30, packaged at 3:18, ready for delivery
  • Package 2: Ordered at 2:30, packaged at 3:14, in transit at 3:54 (90mins order/transit)


This is what the dashboard looked like with both orders on the way:


Then, there was a knock at the door!

Tour part 4: The delivery

It’s 4pm and a courier is here in a GSE shirt and brings me this package with my dog food in it from location B.  The delivery person told me I was one of the first non-googlers they had delivered to.


This is a look at the label on the package:

There’s a QR Code driven survey inside the package  along with return instructions:

20minutes later, another knock at the door as package 2 arrives.  This one was more in a bag (toothbrush, rigatoni, crackers):




There was a survey postcard in here as well.  This driver told me he was doing 50-60 a day deliveries and people were raving about it.  There was no branding for Nob Hill in either package (but I knew where I ordered in the earlier part of the process).


That concludes our first look at this great new service by Google.