Google launches Shopping Express pilot

San Francisco -- Google made a quiet announcement on Friday that it is officially launching the pilot of its Google Shopping Express program, which features online delivery initially in the San Francisco Bay area.

In a notice on the company’s website, Google Shopping Express product management director Tom Fallows described the program as a “new experiment,” one that offers “a local delivery service that we hope will make it possible for you to get the items you order online the same day, and at a low cost."

Google Shopping Express promises same-day delivery to customers directly from such retailers as Target, Walgreens, Office Depot, Staples, Toys "R" Us, American Eagle and others. Using Google’s Shopping Express site, users will be able to browse inventory at those stores, put the products they want into virtual shopping bags, and then select a convenient delivery time. A Google Express delivery person will then deliver the products to their doorsteps.

The pilot involves a limited San Francisco test in the beginning, but Google is inviting a broader number of people in San Francisco, as well as consumers in San Jose and San Mateo to sign up to test the new program. Early testers are getting free, unlimited, same-day delivery for six months.

Fallows has suggested that the pilot program will expand, especially as Google is already behind eBay and Amazon in the same-day delivery service marketplace. Ebay’s Now service, which provides same-day delivery for hundreds of stores, is available in San Francisco, New York City and San Jose, Calif. It costs $5 per order while being tested. Amazon provides its Local Express Delivery service in 10 cities, including New York, Las Vegas, Seattle, Boston, and Washington. It is more expensive at $8.99 and up, depending on the size of the delivery.