Walmart has announced that it is partnering with Google in order to allow for voice shopping via Google Assistant starting next month. This is the biggest deal in retail for Google so far as the online search giant seeks to widen the reach of the Google Home speaker. For Walmart the deal is part of the giant retailer’s efforts to compete in a segment currently dominated by Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant present in Echo devices.
According to the chief executive officer of Walmart’s e-commerce business in the United States, Marc Lore, voice-activated consumer buying activity is getting more and more popular. In the partnership with Google, customers of Walmart will be able to set up shopping results which are personalized according to their unique needs.
“For example, if you order Tide PODS or Gatorade, your Google Assistant will let you know which size and type you previously ordered from Walmart, making it easy for you to buy the right product again,” wrote Sridhar Ramaswamy, ads and commerce senior vice president at Google, in an online post.
According to Walmart the investment Google has made in artificial intelligence and natural language processing will assist in increasing the popularity of voice-activated shopping. And due to how personalized the service will be for each individual user, consumers will be able to mention generic termssuch as cheese, bread or milk and the voice assistant will be able to tell exactly what brand and in what size is being ordered. This is because Walmart’s Easy Reorder feature will be integrated into the voice assistant.
Voice-activated shopping in Google Home speakers was introduced earlier in the year and lets shoppers use their voices in ordering items from retailers who have signed up to the Google Express programs. Currently there are more than 40 retailers on the program and these include Costco and Target. The service is, however, three years behind Echo which was introduced in 2014.
Though it already has the biggest market share in the grocery market of the United States as well as the highest number of retail outlets, Walmart is determined to catch up to Amazon in e-commerce. This has seen the retail giant overhaul its shipping strategy as well as expand its store-curb pickup service for groceries that are purchased online. Walmart also recently announced a grocery delivery service partnership with Uber. The retail giant has also been experimenting with Deliv, a same-day delivery service, for its Miami Sam’s Club.