Will the Walmart/Google voice deal give Amazon’s Alexa a run for its money?
Move over Alexa. Walmart shoppers will soon be able to buy thousands of products online by speaking to their Google Home device or a mobile phone loaded with the Google Express app.
Beginning later next month, hundreds of thousands of items sold by Walmart will be available via Google Assistant, making Walmart the retailer selling the most products through the platform.
Walmart and Google broke the news earlier today in separate posts on their company blogs.
“One of the primary use cases for voice shopping will be the ability to build a basket of previously purchased everyday essentials. That’s why we decided to deeply integrate our Easy Reorder feature into Google Express,” wrote Marc Lore, president and CEO, Walmart U.S. eCommerce. “This will enable us to deliver highly personalized shopping recommendations based on customers’ previous purchases, including those made in Walmart stores and on Walmart.com. To take advantage of this personalization, customers only need to link their Walmart account to Google Express.”
Mr. Lore said that Walmart intends to pursue the voice assistant opportunity aggressively by leveraging its 4,700 stores in the U.S. along with its fulfillment network to offer such services as placing orders for in-store pickup with a discount. Walmart customers will also be able to place their fresh grocery orders in the same way.
A partnership with Google makes sense, according to Mr. Lore, because of the tech giant’s expertise in natural language processing and artificial intelligence.
He invited any comparisons between the Walmart/Google offering and those from other retailers. “We think that’s the way it should be,” he wrote. “An open and transparent shopping universe is good for customers.”
While still early in the technology’s deployment, voice is growing as a tool for consumers to make purchases. Fifteen percent of consumers say they always or often make a purchase using voice, according to research by Walker Sands. Nineteen percent say they have used Amazon Echo or another voice-activated device in the past year while one-third of those surveyed plan to do so over the next year.
- Walmart, Google Partner to Make Shopping Even Easier – Here’s How – Walmart
- Shop Walmart and more of your favorite stores, faster – Google
- Take that Alexa! Wal-Mart partners with Google to offer voice shopping – CNBC
- The Future of Retail 2017 – Walker Sands Communications
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will the Walmart/Google deal speed up adoption of voice-activated devices as a shopping tool? Will the deal help level the playing field between Walmart and Amazon?