Walmart is partnering with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items on its voice-controlled Google Assistant platform from late September.
Walmart's head of e-commerce, Marc Lore, broke the news in a blog post on Wednesday.
“Starting in late September, we’ll be working with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items for voice shopping via Google Assistant – the largest number of items currently offered by a retailer through the platform.
“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 personalized shopping recommendations based on customers’ previous purchases, including those made in Walmart stores and on Walmart.com.”
The partnership comes as Amazon continues to expand its share of online purchases. Voice-based technologies are gaining momentum in key industry verticals. In particular, voice-based personal assistants are enjoying recent notoriety, driven by use in connected speaker products, smartphones, and computers. Amazon’s Alexa-powered Echo device already accounts for 72.2 percent of the voice-controlled device market in 2016, according to research firm eMarketer.
Lore said that Wal-Mart has bigger plans for voice shopping next year that will involve capitalizing on its 4,700 U.S. stores to "create customer experiences that don't currently exist within voice shopping anywhere else."
They have launched several initiatives over the last year to improve sales, including offering discounts to customers who buy online and pick up in-store, and free two-day shipping for purchases of $35 or more.
Last year, the company was said to be in advanced discussions to invest as much as $1 billion into Flipkart, India’s largest e-commerce company. Leading retailers have been reluctant to enter the Indian market because of restrictions on how they supply stores.
Walmart was also granted a patent for “shopping facility assistance systems, devices, and methods” by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The retailer had been rumoured to be working on plans to roll out self-driving shopping carts. The patent describes a disc-shaped robotic device with motorized wheels, which transports and navigates the shopping carts through the store. It can move, scan, retrieve, and deliver products; check inventory; connect with customers and more.
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