Big names such as Target, Staples, and Toys "R" Us have partnered with Google to do same-day deliveries, but the real beneficiaries may be the small mom-and-pop shops.
Palo Alto Sport Shop & Toy World has been in business for over 80 years, but only recently has it been able to offer same-day delivery. "A lot of people out there like shopping at smaller businesses and this will allow us to compete with Amazon," Miguel Natario told ABC7 News.
Google just launched "Shopping Express" after three years of planning and testing. So, the company best known for searching the web is now in the shopping and delivery service.
"Some of this is pretty new for Google. We're a technology company, not necessarily known for driving trucks around town," Google Shopping Express Project Director Tom Fallows said. "So, that's why we were in beta for a full year, learning a lot, and a lot of our beta testers helped us work out the kinks."
Google's hybrid delivery vehicles are so busy from San Francisco to San Jose that ABC7 News couldn't catch up with any of them. So Google provided a video showing how the process works. Shoppers place orders using either Android or Apple smartphone apps, then schedule the delivery time.
"So finally, instead of shopping all day while the kids are at school, I could stay home and watch soaps or something exciting," said Annie Bedichek of Palo Alto.
Prices are the same as in stores and delivery is free for the first six months. Google hasn't figure out yet what to charge after that.
Natario says during the test phase, Google Shopping Express is 10 percent of his sales, a healthy increase coming from customers outside the area. In Mountain View, REI says customers have used Google Shopping Express to buy a variety of items from backpacks to key chains.
"I actually saw an order yesterday for a bicycle tube. Hard to come down here for just one tube, and to be able to have that on their normal delivery route is definitely going to save the environment," REI Sales Manager Bill Dougherty said.
Participating stores include a mix of large chains and small merchants. Google says it is not collecting data or analytics on shoppers' buying habits, but it is hoping its participating merchants will boost their advertising on Google.