With a full head of steam headed out of San Francisco, Google's Express delivery service has passed another mile marker and is now operating in more major cities around the U.S.
Google Express delivers products to customers from merchants with same-day or next-day service. The delivery service was launched in New York and California before its most recent expansion in Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.
Consumers can subscribe to Express for $95 annually or $10 per month, with the requirement that orders meet a $15 minimum for the latter offering. For shoppers who don't order regularly enough to warrant the previous subscriptions, they can opt for Express' $5 per order solution.
"We're going to help connect merchants with their existing customers," said Brian Elliott, Google's head of shopping partnerships. "Our merchants have been seeing growth, and it saves time and effort for customers."
The expansion of Express heats up the competition between Google and Amazon, as the pair vie to attract the growing demand for rapid delivery service. Google offers the more affordable price, while Amazon provides a much larger selection.
Amazon tacks a charge of $5.99 onto same- or next-day deliveries for orders placed by Prime customers, though the e-commerce site's $99 subscription service comes with a host of other offerings. Non-Prime members pay $8.99 for same- or next-day service.
While many of Amazon's services don't overlap with Google's offerings, the e-commerce site is the search engine company's main competitor, according to Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.
"Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo," says Schmidt. "But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon. People don't think of Amazon as search, but if you are looking for something to buy, you are more often than not looking for it on Amazon. They are obviously more focused on the commerce side of the equation, but, at their roots, they are answering users' questions and searches, just as we are."
With startup's like Instacart establishing itself in the rapid delivery territory, Google is wary of disruptors. Schmidt says he's not sure the tech industry's heavyweights are invulnerable to being toppled by new players.
"Look at Yahoo, Nokia, Microsoft, BlackBerry and others who seemed unrivaled just a few years ago, but were disrupted by a new wave of tech companies, Google among them," says Schmidt. "Many of you are skeptical. I get that. You look at Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon and say there's no way competitors can beat them. I'm less certain."