A review of Google Express, by someone who lives in Provo, Utah

On Monday, the 28th of November, the snows came.

For having lived in Wisconsin my entire childhood, I am not a huge fan of the snow beyond the holiday visual aesthetic. Being required to walk, bike, or rely on the tender mercies of someone giving me a ride in their own car, does not help endear me any more to the snow.

It was then that I knew it was time to open the app I had installed a whole month ago, and register for Google Express--the shopping-delivery app that finally rolled out (almost) nationwide just recently. I can’t imagine how much I would have thrived more as a college student if any grocery delivery apps had come to Utah just a tad bit sooner.

Is Google Express finally an answer for people like me who live outside the urban accessibility of the American tech west coast?

Step 1: Register for Google Express

I had missed the window of opportunity for the 6-month free membership code, but the 3-month membership offer code is still valid until sometime in January. It’s more than enough time to determine if you should cancel after that time.

Google automatically gave me the 3-month offer code and ALSO — this is important — did not give it on the condition that I had to sign up for the annual membership plan ($95).

In fact, I chose the $10/month plan. Google gave me a choice to pay on a more preferable schedule, and I took it. You should too. As long as you spend at least $15 per order, you don’t have to pay for delivery fees either. Google Express makes itself very easy to try out without fear of getting locked into a contract or getting unexpected charges on your CC.

Step 2: Browse for stores and food

A huge draw for me to download Google Express was that TARGET, the most superior grocery store, was listed as a partner. I live about 10–15 minutes away from a Target and it is such a treat to get to go there instead of having to walk (in the cold and snow, no less) to my boring local no-name supermarket. Imagine if I could get groceries and goodies from Target anytime I wanted!

This is where I discovered the current drawbacks of Google Express.

  • In my area, same-day delivery is not an option. Two-day delivery is the quickest option. This means no orange juice, no fruit, no milk, nothing that has to be refrigerated or frozen or is otherwise quickly perishable.
  • As I would discover after receiving my order, my groceries are being shipped to me from Seattle — nowhere near the local grocery stores that are actually in MY area (including the Target).
  • Target is not a store available to me, in my area. :’(

Step 3: Order what you want

When there is no Target, Walgreens will do. As a matter of fact, it is the only “real” grocery store on my Express that doesn’t require a Costco membership.

I looked through the snacks and items that were on sale, and I chose:

  • Ritz crackers
  • EZ cheese that you squeeze from a can and goes really well on them crackers
  • Pistachios
  • Those Downy laundry fragrance beads you put in the washer

These put me over the $15 minimum so I would get free shipping. I ordered them to arrive on Wednesday, the 30th.

Step 4: Receive Google Express order

I eagerly awaited the brown paper bag with a parachute on it. After all, it had been visually promised on the Google Express website banners and emails.

Instead, a box arrived with the branded logo packing tape as seen at the beginning of this story. This is when I truly realized that Google Express was not really “in my area” — it just delivered to my area. A subtle difference that reminded me that Provo, UT will never be Seattle or San Francisco — at least, not for a while.

The goods were, as expected, refreshing and delicious. Except for those laundry boost beads. Don’t eat those, kids.

Not pictured: the gaping torn hole in the back of the Ritz crackers box that I did not discover until the third day. None of the inner sleeves were compromised. That said, Google Express seems to make it easy for people to claim returns and refunds, so if I had really thought it was a big deal, I would have pursued it.

The app followed up with me a couple days later to reward me for giving them a good shake, with the hopes of me using my early adopter status to lure others into using it. I am completely above this tactic, of course.

So why should you try Google Express?

It’s definitely not for everyone, as regional differences may make it impractical for some locations and customers (as seen here in my first test).

You should try it if:

  • Your grocery trips are inconvenient, for any number of valid reasons
  • You want to stick to a grocery budget, but have trouble controlling time & money once you’re wandering around in a store
  • You are and/or want to be Google so you enjoy consuming anything with the Google name attached to it
  • You have nothing to lose, which is true

Have you tried Google Express? Other grocery delivery apps? What are your experiences with these?

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