Walmart now allows voice-activated, Google-powered grocery shopping

Walmart now lets customers order groceries by voice through Google Assistant. This can be considered as an attempt to counter Amazon.com Inc.’s growing clout in e-commerce.

Amazon customers can shop groceries from Whole Foods by calling out orders in their homes to their Echo devices, but Walmart customers have lacked that option. Now since Walmart doesn’t make its own smart device like Amazon, so it’s tapping Google Assistant, Google’s AI-powered voice assistant, which is available on more than a billion devices. The two companies announced a partnership on Tuesday that allows Walmart shoppers to order groceries for pickup and home delivery through Google Assistant.

Google home mini smart speaker with built-in Google Assistant.

Two years ago, Walmart and Google partnered on voice-based shopping through Google Home devices. Specifically, customers could easily reorder favorites through Google’s shopping service, Google Express. However, Walmart disappeared from Google Express’ marketplace this January and was recently said to be testing an online grocery voice application with a small number of VIP customers ahead of a spring launch.

The voice-shopping service comes out as a result of partnership between the two companies that began in August 2017, one of several alliances Walmart has made in recent years with technology companies including Microsoft, China’s JD.com and Japan’s Rakuten. But the Walmart-Google pairing hasn’t had much to talk about since then, especially after Walmart withdrew from Google’s shopping platform earlier this year.

To get started, Google Assistant users will have to launch the feature as they would with any other voice application. They’ll say: “OK Google, talk to Walmart.”

That’s still not as simple as Amazon’s assistant, though. Because of its first-party platform advantage, you can say, “Alexa, order milk” to order from Whole Foods, or “Alexa, add milk to my shopping list” for future orders or general list-making.

Walmart said that the new voice-shopping feature will be launched to all Google Assistant-powered devices this month, including Google Home, Android and iPhones, smartwatches and other platforms, including those from third parties like JBL or Lenovo, among others.

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