August 7, 2014, 12:15 PM

Google and Barnes & Noble expand same-day deliveries

Consumers in Manhattan, San Francisco and parts of Los Angeles can order items from the chain through Google Shopping Express.

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Google Inc. and Barnes & Noble Inc. have launched same-day book delivery to consumers in Manhattan, the San Francisco Bay area and West Los Angeles. The move represents the latest effort by a prominent retailer to entice online shoppers with same-day deliveries.

Consumers can place orders for same-day delivery through Google Shopping Express. Launched last year, Google Shopping Express works with about 20 retailers. Besides Barnes & Noble, No. 28 in the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, they include Staples Inc., No. 3,; Target Corp., No. 18; Toys ‘R’ Us Inc., No. 34; Walgreen Co., No. 43; and American Eagle Outfitters Inc., No. 66.

Consumers ordering through the Google service can select a delivery window for their orders. Google offers a six-month trial membership in the program, with the offer set to expire Aug. 15; Google did not immediately detail what it will charge for membership. Nonmembers pay $4.99 per order.

Google will station an employee in each Barnes & Noble store that takes part in the program (there are four Barnes & Noble stores in Manhattan, for instance), says Jamie Carey, the chain’s chief merchandising officer. When orders come in via Google Shopping Express, that Google staffer will retrieve the items from store shelves and hand them off to a Google-contracted courier for delivery. The consumer’s order will go to the Barnes & Noble store nearest that shopper. If that first store doesn’t have the ordered product, the consumer’s order then goes to a second store, Carey says.

“We want to provide new and existing customers with a high level of service,” Carey says of the program. The chain, he says, expects to achieve incremental and new sales from the program, and to better tie consumers with their local Barnes &Noble stores—order confirmations, for instance, will detail the store from which the order came.

Barnes & Noble’s retail sales declined 5.9% year over year in the 2014 fiscal year ended May 3, to $4.29 billion. Comparable-store sales declined 5.8% during that same period, according to the chain’s financial report.  Asked if the new Google same-day delivery program might help the chain compete better against Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Top 500 Guide, Carey said, “We don’t spend our time thinking about what other people are doing.”

Amazon, meanwhile, this week moved to make same-day deliveries easier for online shoppers by expanding the deployment of its “Get it Today” online filtering tool to consumers in more U.S. cities. Consumers can order more than 1 million products by noon and have it delivered by 9 p.m. in Baltimore, Dallas, Indianapolis, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Amazon introduced same-day delivery in May in Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle. Those nine metropolitan areas represent 17% of the U.S. population.

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