Google took another step toward direct competition with Amazon in the retail delivery business, announcing it is expanding its Shopping Express service to three new cities and imposing a delivery fee for consumers.
Rechristened simply as Google Express, it will be available to shoppers on a membership basis for $95 a year or $10 a month. Amazon charges $99 a year for its Prime service. Consumers who don’t wish to sign up for the long-term deal can use the service for $4.99 per delivery on orders of $15 or more. Lesser orders cost $7.99.
Google Express now expands to Boston, Chicago, and Washington, DC, after a year in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, where it operated solely on a commission basis with participating retailers. Some merchants, notably Office Depot and American Eagle, dropped out of the program and one, Whole Foods, indicated it wouldn’t be expanding into the new markets. The grocery chain last month announced a deal with Instacard to offer one-hour delivery in 15 cities, including all of those served by Google Express.
Google signed several new retailers with the expansion, including 1-800-Flowers, Barnes & Noble, PetSmart, Sports Authority, and Vitamin Shoppe. It added regional merchants including Giant Food in Washington and Stop & Shop in Boston.