I think this might just work. The biggest drawback to shopping online is the time it takes to receive the goods – between 3 and 7 days. I remember getting very nervous that an important gift I'd ordered for Mary for our 49th (!) wedding anniversary wouldn't get here on time. I spent more time calling the store and worrying about it than I did in placing the order. It got here in time, just barely!
So google is taking a page out of Amazon's and eBay's book and test-marketing a same-day delivery service for some upper-end neighborhoods south of San Francisco. These other inline retailers have been test-marketing the same idea in other places in the country. The jury is still out on how that's working for them.
It's another innovation, thanks to the internet. If it works, everyone wins: the customer (who is always the focus of attention in a market economy) gets his order the same day he orders it. He might have to pay a little extra, but right now, no. Google makes it more attractive to shop online. The more people shop online the more likely they are to buy more goods. The more time online the more attractive it is for advertisers to put up ads on Google. That's where Google makes most of its money. Win win win all around.
They're doing everything right from a marketing point of view, as far as I can see. Although Google is selling items for a local mix of retailers including Walgreens and Target, the delivery vans will say Google Shopping Express on the side and the delivery guy will have a uniform that says the same thing. It's called branding, and eventually, name recognition to enhance the Google name.
The test will last for six months, and then they'll know. At least they'll know how it works in an upscale neighborhood near San Francisco. It might not work in low-income neighborhoods. It might work best in commercial districts rather than neighborhoods. If I were a business owner and I could get my office supplies the same day, I'd do it. I already did it when Staples offered same day delivery on some printer cartridges that I desperately needed. Amazingly my order arrived within hours of ordering. It saved me a trip to Office Depot which is a couple of miles away. I saved about 30 minutes of my time. Staples even gave me a discount. I couldn't figure out how they made any money on the deal. They probably didn't. I haven't heard from them since.
But it's just one more example of an attempt to please the customer by offering better service at lower cost. It's the free market in action. I hope it works. If it doesn't, they'll try something else. The customer will be the winner.