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The Battle For Premium Shipping Heats Up

Amazon has earned an almost unhealthy reputation for obsessive customer service. Its hold on premium shipping has, for the most part, been left unchallenged… until recently. Last week Google and Walmart announced they are throwing their respective hats into the ring.

Walmart is opening two new delivery centers with next day delivery capabilities, and Google Express is expanding services to double its current locations. Google Express is a service very similar to Amazon Prime, so the $95 price tag – $4 less than the annual price for Prime – is likely an intentional jab at its closest competitor. Google may be the younger start-up in this scenario, but with an appealing price point, it is likely to attract many customers who already trust the brand name.

Introduced in beta form in March of last year, Google Express, which features same-day or overnight delivery on qualifying orders over $15, was only available to San Francisco residents. That expanded to New York City and parts of Los Angeles in September and has now, a year and a half later, reached three new cities: Chicago, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

The shopping service has also introduced 16 new merchants, including Barnes & Noble, Target, Costco, and PetSmart, bringing the total to 37 partners. Google Shopping is also offering alcohol delivery in California.

GSX-partner-logo-circles-v1737 doesn’t come close to matching Amazon’s 2 million third-party vendors, but any competition is good news for small retailers. Although you cannot opt into same-day delivery service with either company, and you cannot sign-up to be a Google Express partner freely, both retailers are working toward those respective goals.

Marketing director David Rekuc says, “It won’t be long before Google puts a call out for third-party vendors. The question is what they will offer in return for small retailers’ business.”

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Keep in mind both Amazon and Google have confirmed they will be charging retailers a fee for the service although the exact amount for same-day delivery isn’t confirmed.

Small businesses looking for a less expensive option should consider modifying the shipping options on their own eCommerce sites. UPS has found 83% of customers are willing to wait an additional two days or more to receive free shipping on orders.

“Savvy retailers can undercut the big guys by offering free shipping with no subscription fee on slightly slower delivery. If this is too expensive on every order, or to offset costs, you can tie free shipping to a minimum spend,” Rekuc continues. “This will increase your average order value while keeping you competitive with Amazon Prime and Google Express, and studies show most customers are willing to add items to their carts to qualify for free shipping.”