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Walmart and Google team up to launch voice-enabled shopping

by Felix Omondi
walmart google voice-enabled shopping

Amazon should be somewhat worried, now that its arch rival (albeit less technologically advanced) Walmart has teamed up with search giant Google to launch voice-enabled shopping.

This service will be live in the U.S. starting next month. Shoppers will be able to do their shopping at Walmart via voice commands on the Google Assistant platform on their smartphone or home devices. Already, that is what Amazon offers its customers via the AI digital assistant Alexa.

Marc Lore, Head of E-Commerce at Walmart in a blog post wrote that the retailer is planning on rolling out the voice-activated shopping across all its 4,700 stores and “create customer experience that don’t currently exist within voice shopping anywhere else.”

Brick-and-Mortar retailers pushing back

For years, Amazon has been disrupting the retail market by availing its merchandise online and at lower prices; with the option of free delivery. Brick-and-mortar retailers still relying on the traditional ways of doing business have virtually lost relevance.

Amazon has forced most traditional brick-and-mortar retailers also to seek online platforms to offer customers the convenience of online shopping. Google Express comes as a first choice for online platform for retailers who do not want to spend big setting up their online shop infrastructure while benefiting from a well functional online infrastructure.

Walmart, as one of the brick-and-mortar retailer that is adapting to online retailing, will be offering most of its items on retail via Google Express. With the addition of the voice-enabled shopping, a product of synergy between it and Google, the retailers just became a threat to Amazon.

All of a sudden, it is no longer just Amazon offering cutting edge solutions to customers looking for the most convenient way to do their shopping. As Miriam Burt, a Research VP in Retail at Gartner told the BBC:

We need to watch the cohort of customers that’s starting to grow around this, particularly Gen Z, which is anyone born after 1995, who are highly influential. They’re very must into conversational commerce, through instant messengers like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and WeChat.

If you translate that into this, shopping is very convenient for them with voice activation. But whatever way you interact with the retailer, it has to be a really good customer experience from start to finish. If parts of that experience are bad, it will be very hard for the customer to be loyal.”

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