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Walmart to offer voice-enabled shopping

Written by Anthony Strzalek
24/08/2017

Walmart has teamed up with Google in a landmark move to offer the retail giant’s US customers voice-enabled shopping.

The partnership will be stepping on the toes of Amazon which currently dominates the US ‘voice shopping’ market with its AI virtual assistant Alexa.

Starting in late September, the two firms will work together to offer Walmart’s US customers the ability to purchase hundreds of thousands of products via Google Assistant.

A statement on Walmart’s website said: “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.

“This will enable us to deliver highly personalised shopping recommendations based on customers’ previous purchases, including those made in Walmart stores and on Walmart.com.”

To take advantage of this personalisation, customers only need to link their Walmart account to Google Express.

Walmart are also planning, next year, to leverage its 4,700 US stores and its fulfilment network to create customer experiences that do not currently exist within voice shopping anywhere else, including choosing to pick up an order in store or using voice shopping to purchase fresh groceries across the country.

Hugh Fletcher, global head of consultancy and innovation at consultancy outfit Salmon, commented: “With Walmart aligning itself with Google to enter the realm of voice ordering, it is further evidence that we, as an industry and as a society, are moving into an ‘interface-less’ society where shoppers will be making an increased number of purchases made through digital assistants and voice interfaces.

“As we see these virtual ecosystems grow and become more widespread, we are likely to see a battle commence between the digital assistants such as Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod, as retailers and brands affiliate themselves with one or the other.

“This technology is still in its infancy amongst retailers, but we will inevitably see a long line of them making the same decision as Walmart to offer its customers a voice-controlled service, removing the need for a cumbersome, physical interface and allow consumers to slot digital services into their lives with less disruption.”