Google And Walmart Partner To Offer Voice-Based Shopping

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Google and Walmart are coming together to offer customers the ability to purchase Walmart products through a Google Home voice-controlled speaker. Customers will just need to say, “OK, Google,” followed by the product they need to buy. Thereafter, Google will filter and display the products that match the customer’s demand.

How the Google Home voice plans will take on Amazon’s Alexa

Starting in September, Walmart customers will be able to link their accounts to Google Express and order through Google Home voice commands or through Google Express. In addition, Google will be able to refine the experience by linking the Walmart customer’s history.

With the partnership, Google is looking to compete with Amazon’s growing dominance in the online space. According to research firm eMarketer, Amazon’s Alexa is leading the U.S. voice-controlled device industry, with Echo devices capturing 72.2% of the market in 2016, compared to the Google Home gadget’s 22% share of the market.

To make itself more competitive with Amazon, Google Express is also scrapping its $95 a year membership, under which shoppers are eligible for free delivery within one to three days on orders if the purchase is above the store’s minimum.

“The membership was getting in the way in terms of the amount of friction in the experience,” said Brian Elliott, general manager of Google Express.

Google unveiled the shopping feature on Home in February, allowing customers to order essentials from over 40 retailers, such as Target and Costco, under the Google Express program. A unique ability that both Google and Walmart think will give them an edge is the ability to create a reusable shopping list specifically for items needed regularly at home. Walmart has therefore integrated an “Easy Reorder” feature into Google Express. Walmart’s head of e-commerce, Marc Lore, said the feature is already receiving good traffic as the company is witnessing “nice repeat” business from the “Easy reorder” service.

What are Walmart’s plans for voice shopping?

Partnering with Amazon’s Alexa was out of the question for Walmart, as they are fierce rivals and Amazon’s voice commerce model is more of a closed one, notes Recode. And since Walmart and Google know each other well, thanks to their existing advertising relationships, Google Home voice was the best option available.

Walmart is following in the footsteps of other major retailers, such as Whole Foods, Costco, and Bed, Bath & Beyond, which are already catering to customers through Google’s shopping and delivery service. However, Elliott stated that voice-activated shopping at Walmart will be more attractive than it is at other Google Express retailers where personalization requires some time.

Walmart offers a vast range of products and recently has been amplifying its efforts to cater to customers through its online presence. Going ahead, Walmart will allow customers to choose discounted orders in-store or buy fresh groceries from the store they like. Lore stated that the efforts are aimed at simplifying people’s lives.

In the coming months, Walmart is also looking to push its efforts in voice shopping further by capitalizing on its 4,700 U.S. stores to “create customer experiences that don’t currently exist within voice shopping anywhere else,” said Lore.

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