US retailer Walmart is partnering with Google to let shoppers order products via a voice-activated assistant, in an attempt to compete with e-commerce giant Amazon.
From next month, American consumers will be able to buy items from Walmart using Google’s Express shopping service on their phones and home devices.
Users have to link their Walmart accounts to Google Express.
By early next year, shoppers will be able to buy groceries using the voice-activated service and opt for in-store pickup of their orders.
Walmart will use data on its shoppers’ purchase histories so that Google’s digital assistant won’t have to ask for specific brands, weights or sizes — it will just re-order items based on past preferences.
Marc Lore, head of US e-commerce for Walmart, said:
We’ve got the purchase history of 140m Americans going into brick and mortar stores. We are building this to extend to fresh and frozen food. We will deliver to homes and expand aggressively.
Walmart’s partnership with Google is the first major challenge to Amazon’s AI virtual assistant Alexa, which already allows users to shop directly from the online retailer.
Lore wrote in a blog post that Walmart plans to expand the use of voice-activated shopping across its 4,700 stores to “create customer experiences that don’t currently exist within voice shopping anywhere else”.
Walmart teamed up with ride-hailing app Uber earlier this month to offer online grocery deliveries in six more states.
The move was seen as a response to Amazon’s expansion of its Prime Now same-day delivery service in April.
More than 35m Americans will speak to internet-connected devices at least once a month this year, more than double the number in 2016, according to a report published in May by research firm EMarketer.
About 71 percent will use Amazon’s Echo devices, while just 24 percent will use the Google Home speaker.
Shareholders in Wholefoods, the upmarket grocer, will vote today on whether to approve the chain’s $13.7bn tie-up with Amazon.
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