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Google Express Delivery Service Drives Into Middle America

Google Express
Brendan McDermid | Reuters

After some false starts, Google Express, the search giant's delivery service, is plodding ahead with a revamped tactic. On Tuesday, Google announced it is adding overnight delivery to five Midwestern states and will begin testing same-day grocery delivery in two cities.

In its new markets—Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin, as well as an expansion of its existing service in Illinois beyond Chicago—Google is relying primarily on retail and third-party partners for distribution. When the service initially launched, Google tested its own delivery warehouses in the San Francisco Bay Area, but opted to shut those hubs down this summer, and that delivery model with it.

Leading the revised strategy is Brian Elliott, the general manager of Google Express, who took on the role in July after a series of executive shake-ups inside Google's commerce division.

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"Our goal with Google Express is to offer a great shopping experience and connect people with their favorite stores," Elliott said in a statement. "Today, we're very excited to be further expanding our efforts, making it easy for over 25 million people in the Midwest to get things they need from stores they love—delivered overnight."

Express is also entering the highly competitive grocery delivery market, going up against the behemoth Amazon and a bevy of startups. As Re/code reported last month, Google has been in talks with on-demand companies about delivery partnerships. Google didn't say whether those talks made a difference in the upcoming grocery service. Express will deliver groceries from Google's existing retail partners, including Costco, Whole Foods, Nob Hill Foods, Smart & Final and Target.

Google said it will start testing the new service later this year in the San Francisco area and a to-be-named city. Perhaps some of the company's reticence is due to the changes afoot at its rival. Amazon appears to be on the verge of altering the price for Amazon Fresh, its grocery delivery service operating in several cities.

By Mark Bergen, Re/code.net.

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