The battle for online shoppers intensified Thursday as several leading tech giants announced moves to lure consumers into their virtual malls.
In the morning, Amazon said members of its Prime program in select cities will have access to free, same-day delivery on certain items, a move that broadens the subscription service as new players are poised to provide fresh competition online.
In the afternoon, Google introduced “Android Pay,” which will allow users to pay for items by waving their smartphones in front of a scanner at cash registers. And at its developer’s conference in San Francisco, the search giant announced it would add a “buy button” to Web pages that makes it easier to purchase products featured in ads that appear alongside search results.
Meanwhile, Apple confirmed this week that it would partner with logistics company Postmates to offer same-day delivery of online orders. Apple already offers Apple Pay on its newer iPhones; analysts have said it is the first mobile payment system to gain traction with consumers.
The bevy of offerings illustrates the growing competition over online shopping — and the ability of big tech companies to act quickly to define the experience for consumers. Internet shopping is fast replacing trips to the local plaza or mall. Over the holiday shopping season, online sales grew 13.8 percent, compared with a growth of 8.5 percent the year before.
Among online stores, Amazon still has a dominant hold, driven by its Prime subscription program. The company said same-day delivery would be available in 14 metro areas, including Washington and Baltimore. Prime shoppers who place orders before noon will be able to get free, same-day delivery on $35-or-more orders of items such as pet food and books. Amazon founder Jeffrey P. Bezos owns The Washington Post.
Some 20 million items are available for two-day shipping, compared with the 1 million to 4 million that will be available for same-day delivery. An even smaller assortment of items, “tens of thousands,” the company says, are available for one-hour delivery in certain markets. That may help Amazon fend off two new e-commerce membership offerings.