Google Express, a marketplace service linked to 20 retailers such as Costco, Walgreens and Whole Foods, is extending its two-day delivery shopping service in the Natural State effective Tuesday (Sept. 13).
The areas now eligible for the shopping delivery service include Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith metro and surrounding areas, and the Jonesboro, Conway and Batesville regions. The Little Rock and Hot Springs areas in Arkansas are already part of the Google Express service area.
This is part of Google’s effort to expand services to roughly 40 million more consumers in Arkansas, Michigan, Oklahoma, North and South Dakotas, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio and Texas.
“Our goal with Google Express is to offer a great shopping experience and connect people with their favorite stores,” said Brian Elliott, general manager of Google Express. “Today, we’re very excited to be further expanding our efforts – making it easy for millions in Arkansas and beyond to get things they need from stores they love – delivered fast.”
He told Talk Business & Politics that customers have two options when using Google Express. There is an all-inclusive $95 annual subscription that covers delivery from all the retailers selling goods on the Google Express site. Also, there is a $4.99 per order charge, pay-as-you-go option. He said the service in Arkansas is two-day delivery, but that will soon change to overnight delivery by the majority of the retailers selling in the marketplace.
When asked about same-day delivery, Elliott said that option is reserved to select large cities, but Google did not want to ignore the millions living in smaller rural areas who might like to shop at Whole Foods or Costco but find distance is a barrier. For those folks the two-day service is a great starting point, Elliott said. There are 20 retailers lined up to sell in the Arkansas market and Elliott said Google continues to add new retailers to the list. In all Google has enlisted 50 retailers who deliver in various parts of the country.
He said now the Google Express service to Arkansas will not include refrigerated or frozen foods including produce. What it does include is packaged foods from the center of the store as well as other consumables and consumer packaged goods, organic and traditional as well as general merchandise and apparel. Elliott said specialty food retailer 99 Ranch Market was recently added and WayFair, a popular online home goods retailer is coming soon.
The 20 retailers for Arkansas shoppers are: 99 Ranch Market; Barnes & Noble; Bed, Bath & Beyond; Brickmans Ace Hardware; Buy Buy Baby; Costco; Fry’s Electronics; Guitar Center; Kohl’s; L’Occitane; Moosejaw; PetSmart; Road Runner; Sur La Table; Toys “R” Us/ Babies “R” Us; Treasure Island Foods; Ulta; Walgreens; Whole Foods; and The Vitamin Shoppe.
Google Express allows consumers to shop various stores by visiting just one website, the Google Express marketplace. Consumers add products to their carts, chose a delivery option and check out using a debit or credit card linked to the account. Google Express arranges for the delivery company that will bring the order to the shopper’s front door.
Elliott said a growing number of consumers who shop Google Express do so from the mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android phones. He said the site is also available on desktop.
Talk Business & Politics asked retail expert Carol Spieckerman, CEO of Spieckerman Retail, about the move by Google Express and perhaps what they hope to gain with the reach to consumers who may already be acclimated to Amazon and Walmart.com.
“Google Express, Walmart and Amazon all operate unique models that offer unique benefits to shoppers and to the companies themselves,” Spieckerman said. “Unlike Walmart, and in many cases, Amazon, Google does not hold inventory so it really is just a pass-through to various retailers.”
She said Google’s platform is one retailers can leverage to drive more sales and it adds yet another option to their convenience arsenals. Spieckerman said Google isn’t attempting to grab literal product market share from Walmart, Amazon and others, but more than anything Google wants to wrestle back search strength, particularly from Amazon.
“Amazon has grown to become the default product search engine for millions of shoppers, one that enables them to search, compare, check out reviews and, most importantly, complete transactions on a single platform. This is cutting into Google’s traditional strength, and value (search),” she added.