In July, I decided to sign up for Google Shopping Express at 1 p.m. on a Thursday.
By 1:15 p.m., I finished placing my order and quickly realised that my life from that moment onward would be different.
And later that same day, at 7:20 p.m., when my items showed up at the door, I decided that I’m never shopping at a brick-and-mortar store for sundries ever again.
There are quite a few entries in the same-day delivery field. There’s AmazonFresh and Instacart. There’s Safeway and Wal-Mart.
Google announced on Monday a new pricing scheme (and a new name) for its shopping service. It’s now called Shopping Express, and it costs $US95 per year or a flat fee of $US4.99 per order (or $US7.99 per order if it’s under $US15).
You also get three months free, and orders above $US15 can be delivered in the same day.
That’s a paltry sum for the amount of time and energy I’m saving.
Setup is easy. You link it with your Google account and a credit card that’s stored in Google Wallet. And then you get to do the fun part: Shop. And you can share your account for free with one other person who lives in your house.
I live just south of San Francisco, on what’s called the Peninsula (and just a little north of Google’s campus in Mountain View). Google Shopping Express is available in San Francisco, the Peninsula and San Jose, West Los Angeles, Manhattan, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C.
Stores range from Costco to REI and Whole Foods. Which stores are available to peruse varies by location.
So essentially, I could order paper towels from Costco and a ukulele from Guitar Center, all in the same order.
You can also order alcohol if you live in the Bay Area, but someone with a valid ID needs to be at home when the order is delivered. And you can enter store reward and membership card numbers.
You then pick when you want the order delivered, choosing among 3- or 4-hour blocks throughout the day. You also can leave delivery instructions, and you can let them know whether you’ll accept a substitution if the store is out of your first choice.
There are a few things that Shopping Express lacks that others have. AmazonFresh offers 1-hour time slots. It also allows you to order fresh groceries, such as meat and eggs, and milk. And you can order frozen foods.
AmazonFresh offers a free 30-day trial, and then you will be charged $US299, which includes all the benefits of Prime. You then get free same-day delivery on orders over $US35.
Instacart also offers a membership, called Instacart Express, as well as fresh groceries. For $US99 per year, you get free shipping on orders $US35 and over. There’s a free 14-day trial so new customers can determine if it’s right for them.
You don’t have to sign up for a membership if you don’t want to and can pay a la carte. Your first order is free, and then you pay different prices depending on how quickly you want your items. For example, if you need something in the next hour, you pay $US5.99 per order that’s $US35 or more, but if you can wait a couple hours, it drops to $US3.99. And orders less than $US35 cost more.
But that three-month free trial period that Google offers is hard to beat.
It’s Not Perfect
Because someone else is shopping for you, there are a couple things that could go wrong. For example, I ordered Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter from Whole Foods, and instead they delivered Vanilla Almond Butter.
But getting that remedied was easy enough. There’s a “report a problem” link on the order page.
Within an hour, I got an email back.
“How frustrating, though — so sorry you ordered Justin’s Peanut Butter, Honey but received Vanilla Almond Butter instead,” the email said.
If a mistake happens, there’s no need to return the item. You can keep it or donate it. If the correct item is available, you choose a new delivery time and they will deliver in the time block you specify.
If the correct item isn’t available, you get a full refund. And you get to keep the vanilla almond butter! Not bad.
Never Leaving My House
Google has made a $US500 million investment in Shopping Express, according to Re/code. And Sameer Samat, Google’s vice president of shopping, told The Wall Street Journal that adding the new fees and making more deliveries per trip will make Google Express profitable over the long term, despite the costs of hiring a fast-moving delivery fleet.
Because its service isn’t competing directly with grocery stores — on the contrary, it’s sourcing all of its groceries from stores near you — it’s only a matter of time before other stores partner up with Google to offer an even larger breadth of products. With the announcement on Monday, Google says that its added 16 more merchants just within the last few months.
And the service itself is great: Glass jars are wrapped nicely in paper. Things that could potentially leak all over your stuff are sealed in a plastic bag.
If I coupled Shopping Express with one of the other sites that delivers fresh groceries, I could see myself never leaving the house for groceries again.
I’ve reached peak laziness. And I’m definitely OK with that.