Google has seen Amazon as a business threat for quite awhile, which is no surprise. Barnes and Noble has as well, especially since Amazon has tried to bring them down as a company. Thus, the two companies have joined forces and are now directly competing against Amazon head-on with the newly created Google Shopping Express. Other big-name stores including Target, Whole Foods, Costco, Fry’s and Walgreens have also joined up in this new business venture.
“Starting on Thursday,” according to The New York Times, “book buyers in Manhattan, West Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area will be able to get same-day deliveries from local Barnes & Noble stores through Google Shipping Express.”
Since it was founded in 1994 and built its headquarters in Seattle, Washington, Amazon has been a thriving, successful company. It has also been a well-known leader when it comes to same-day delivery. They charged their Prime customers $5.99 per shipment, and $9.98 for the first item of all their non-Prime members. Any additional item beyond that first $9.98 was $0.99 per item. Amazon has had established warehouses, full of supplies, near their urban delivery areas. They have even partnered with major retailers, so that their goods can be sent out by local carriers.
In direct competition with Amazon, Google has made sure that its delivery prices are lower than Amazon’s. Instead of customers paying what Amazon requires, this well-known Internet search engine corporation has adapted their own strategy. With the new Shopping Express service, same-day deliveries cost $4.99 per delivery for all non-subscribers. To gain subscribers, they are offering a six-month free trial of free deliveries. Their goal is that soon everyone will favor their blue and white delivery trucks over Amazon’s smiling boxes, and be seen as superior. Another option with their Shopping Express service is telling customers to call into their local bookstores after they’ve purchased a book, and then drive in and pick it up later that day.
Currently, Google Shopping Express is making itself available in Santa Monica, as well as parts of West Los Angeles. Book deliveries are being maintained by the Barnes & Noble’s Marina Del Rey store. Partnering with such a powerful brand name company could be an enormous boost for Barnes & Noble, especially after losing 63 stores in the past five years. This loss was greatly accomplished through Amazon. Barnes & Noble’s chief executive, Michael P. Huseby, has said that teaming up with Google is a big test for their company. It is in the hope that making this connection will up their online sales and establish a stronger link to their physical stores.
Until now, Amazon has had over 50 percent control of all book sales, both online and in the physical store, and has gained quite some ground. Over the past decade, they have overtaken Borders, shrunk Barnes & Nobles, and pulled business away from thousands of independent bookstores. From the 7,000 independent bookstores that were open in the mid-1990’s, Amazon has been responsible for diminishing that number down to 2,000. Amazon also has the Kindle to its credit, an electronic tablet for books, games and other apps in 2007. It might not have been the first e-reader to be placed on the market, but their product excelled through establishing customers with the option to connect their Kindle, desktop or laptop computers to the Internet. By 2010, Amazon had claimed control over 90 percent of the rapidly increasing e-book market.
The Google-Barnes & Noble merger intends to loosen Amazon’s long-term hold on the online book market. Both companies seem confident at this point that they will be the ultimate victors, and come out on top. Amazon has increased its delivery areas to six new cities including San Francisco, Phoenix, and Seattle. Google and Amazon are now in direct competition over which company will become the next authority on the e-commerce business.
By Rachel Roddy