Walmart has found a teammate in the fight against Amazon. The big box giant is partnering with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items for voice shopping via Google Assistant starting in late September. According to Walmart, it will be the largest number of items currently offered by a retailer through the Google Home voice-controlled speaker.
Google's shopping service Google Express has also dropped its shipping fees, announcing in a blog post it's offering free delivery within one to three days, as long as orders meet each store’s minimum (Walmart's is $35).
As voice-activated devices are becoming more common, grocery shopping stands to be a major use case for the next-gen tech. Grocery delivery service Peapod recently launched Ask Peapod via Amazon's Alexa device, a service that allows for hands-free voice ordering to shoppers' online grocery carts.
As Amazon continues its push into the grocery business, this strategic decision from Walmart seems well-timed. Marc Lore, President and CEO, Walmart U.S. eCommerce, noted in the blog announcement that the move makes sense because Google has "made significant investments in natural language processing and artificial intelligence to deliver a powerful voice shopping experience."
"We know this means being compared side-by-side with other retailers, and we think that’s the way it should be," said Lore. "An open and transparent shopping universe is good for customers."
The voice shopping partnership will make use of Walmart's new reordering feature, as the retailer has deeply integrated "Easy Reorder" into Google Express. Customers will just need to link their Walmart account to 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," said Lore.
And there are more features to come. In 2018, Walmart will add the option to pick up an order in store (often for a discount) or use voice shopping to purchase fresh groceries across the country. Customers can also still use Walmart's free two-day shipping with the voice shopping capability.