Google, your new fishmonger

The search giant is getting into fresh grocery deliveries, joining efforts by Amazon and Instacart to offer virtual supermarkets.

google-shopping-express-3170-001.jpg

Google has embraced bananas, ice cream and hamburger patties.

Josh Miller/CNET

Google, no longer content simply serving as the front door of the Internet, will show up at your actual front door -- with fresh peaches and a gallon of milk.

The search giant started a pilot program Wednesday in Los Angeles and San Francisco to offer same-day delivery of fruits, vegetables, meat, seafood, dairy and frozen foods as part of its Google Express service. The program already offers snacks, cereals, drinks and other non-perishable foods.

"We've heard your feedback that you'd love for Express to help you check off your entire grocery list," Prabhu Balasubramanian, a Google Express manager, said in a statement.

Mountain View, California-based Google has moved into fresh groceries to keep pace in the race to offer instant gratification to consumers, right in their homes. Led by Amazon's push into faster deliveries, most retailers are now trying to find ways to speed up their shipments too. Instacart already offers fresh grocery deliveries. Amazon does too, and even lets people order a Domino's pizza by simply calling out to their Amazon Echo smart speakers.

It's still unclear whether these speedy-delivery efforts will be another fad or will permanently change the way people shop, especially because such services don't come cheap. About 15 years ago, companies such as Webvan and Kozmo attempted rapid deliveries but crumbled amid the dot-com bust.

While Google Express has a strong stable of retail partners, including Costco, Toys "R" Us and Whole Foods, it is still overshadowed by Amazon Prime Now. Amazon's ever-expanding quick delivery includes items ranging from shampoo to wrapping paper to game consoles.

Fresh groceries could help Google Express at least match some of Amazon's offerings in Los Angeles and San Francisco. But it will still take time for others to catch up to Amazon, as the online retailer keeps adding more items to rapid delivery.

Fresh grocery deliveries start at $2.99 for Google Express members and $4.99 for everyone else. Customers can choose two-hour windows for deliveries, which are available every day. A membership costs $10 a month or $95 a year. By comparison, an Instacart Express membership is $149 a year and an AmazonFresh grocery membership costs $299 annually. Prime Now, meanwhile, is available through the $99-a-year Amazon Prime membership.

Featured Video