Amazon's Echo, Echo Dot, and now Echo Show have given the company the lead when it comes to voice activated shopping. Amazon's Alexa voice assistant is arguably not as capable when it comes to internet queries as the Google Assistant or Siri, but is king (or is it queen?) of shopping by voice. Since Alexa hooks into Amazon, it has access to its vast selection of products. Walmart is looking to tap into the voice activated shopping market by partnering with Google.
Google and Walmart have partnered to allow users of the Google Home speaker to buy hundreds of thousands of Walmart products via Google Express. Google Home is the Amazon Echo competitor that runs the Google Assistant.
Google Home users can use their voice to either order one item at a time from Walmart or add multiples items to an online shopping cart and then complete the purchase via the Google Home app.
“It’s still really early days. However, we have watched the advancements in artificial intelligence over the previous two years and can extrapolate as to where it’s going,” says Marc Lore, Walmart’s head of e-commerce in the U.S, “We do think that, in the future, voice will be orders of magnitude further along than it is today in understanding and responding to consumer needs. It’s going to be a powerful mechanism to enhance the shopping experience.”
Previously, Google Express required a $95/year membership. Google Express is scrapping that membership to better compete with Amazon while also allowing shoppers to get free delivery within one to three days on orders as long as the purchase is above each store's minimum. Starting next year, this will expand to include the ability to place orders for in-store pickup and fresh groceries at Walmart stores through Google Home.
For its part, Walmart is integrating its Easy Reorder feature into Google Express. Customers simply link their Walmart account to their Google account to complete the integration. In addition to easily reordering previously purchased products, Easy Reorder also learns a shopper's habits and suggests recommendations based on what the customer has previously ordered at Walmart.
Google initially introduced voice activated shopping to Google Home earlier this year, partnering with retailers such PetSmart, Walgreens and Costco in a bid to further compete with Amazon's Alexa's capabilities. Adding the largest retailer in the world is sure to buoy both Google's efforts to compete with Alexa and Walmart's efforts to compete with Amazon.