Google Is Teaming Up With Walmart to Take on Amazon in Voice-Activated Ecommerce

Also includes intriguing data play

Can Walmart help Google compete with Amazon?
Google

Google is hoping the world’s biggest brick-and-mortar retailer can give it some much-needed leverage over Amazon.

The company has partnered with Walmart, making it the first time that the retailer has legally sold its goods outside of its own website and stores.

Starting in September, Walmart will supply “hundreds of thousands of items” that can be purchased through Google Assistant and Google Home devices. Similar to Amazon’s Echo, people can speak to the voice-activated devices to buy items from Walmart. People can also shop from the Google Express mobile app and website, which Walmart is plugged into.

Here’s how it works: Consumers first link their Walmart account to Google. A feature called Easy Reorder organizes items that people buy online and in stores so that they can build shopping lists and buy products quickly. For example, Google Assistant will remember the flavor and size of a Gatorade product for consumers who routinely order it.

Walmart is also experimenting with new delivery methods with Google. Next year, shoppers will be able to buy groceries and pick up voice orders in Walmart stores.

“When it comes to voice shopping, we want to make it as easy as possible for our customers—that’s why it makes sense for us to team up with Google,” Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. ecommerce, said in a statement. “They’ve made significant investments in natural language processing and artificial intelligence to deliver a powerful voice shopping experience.”

Meanwhile, Walmart has aggressively acquired a number of companies to compete with behemoth Amazon. Last year, Walmart bought Jet.com for $3 billion and also owns a handful of ecommerce brands including Bonobos and Modcloth.

In addition to Walmart, Google has similar partnerships with Target, Walgreens and Kohl’s that let consumers shop from voice-activated devices and through Google Express. According to Google, Walmart is a notable partner because of the tie-in with the retailer’s log-in data, which will be used to recommend products. In addition to shopping history, Google also uses search data to match up with relevant products across all merchants.

In a bid to get more consumers to try out Google Express, Google is dropping its previous yearly $95 fee and offering two-day shipping for any orders that are over $35.