MOUNTAIN VIEW -- Google (GOOG) on Thursday unveiled the early rollout of free same-day Bay Area delivery service for shoppers who use Google to make their online purchases from stores such as Target and Raley's Nob Hill Foods.
Shoppers from San Jose and up the Peninsula to San Francisco can apply to test the same-day delivery service at www.google.com/shopping/express/about.
Google now joins an increasingly crowded field that includes eBay (EBAY), Facebook and Walmart, which all have announced at least initial steps to try to catch up to online giant Amazon in capturing online shoppers.
For Google, same-day delivery service through Google Shopping Express lets it cut into the e-commerce pie while keeping online shoppers engaged on its site.
"Google has so many battles in so many different areas that I am concerned they're pushing the boundaries of how many major battles they can have with major companies," said analyst Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group. "But this could be pretty powerful. Amazon has carved a broad swath through the retail arena and moved into Google's space with its tablet. This would be quid pro quo for Google to move into Amazon's space and organize retailers against Amazon."
Google employees, or "Googlers," have been testing the delivery service for the last several months, according to a source familiar with the project. Google is not disclosing how many Bay Area shoppers will actually get to use the service during the soft rollout or how long it will last.
A Google blog announced the same-day delivery service in the Bay Area.
Bay Area shoppers who are initially selected for Google's trial service will get same-day delivery of items they purchase through Google Shopping Express from big-name retailers that include Target, Walgreens, Staples, American Eagle, Toys R Us/Babies R Us, as well as local companies that include Raley's Nob Hill Foods, San Francisco's Blue Bottle Coffee and Palo Alto Toy & Sport.
Retailers pay Google an undisclosed surcharge for each delivery, so the service is free for shoppers, the source said. Deliveries will come directly from the closest store shelves and not from centralized distribution centers, which could delay delivery times.
Shoppers will be allowed to select delivery-time windows, the source said, and items ordered as late as 5 p.m. are designed to be delivered no later than 9 p.m. that night.
Google is working with several delivery companies in the Bay Area, but all drivers will wear Google Shopping Express polo shirts and their trucks will carry the Google brand.
Contact Dan Nakaso at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/dannakaso.