Walmart customers will soon be able to order thousands of items using just their voice. To make it possible, Walmart has teamed up with Google Home. The partnership will make Walmart the top retailer on the platform for number of products available via voice shopping. Other partners include Whole Foods Market, Target, Staples and Costco.
Customers can shop a few different ways:
- Google Home: The Assistant feature on Google Home can help you voice-order items. You can place items in your shopping cart one at a time.
- Google Express: Use the Google Express website or app to quickly and conveniently shop.
- Link your accounts: Link your Walmart account to Google. This will give you personalized shopping suggestions based on previous in-store or online purchases, accelerating your reorder process. For example, if you always order a specific laundry detergent or a favorite brand of diapers, Google Assistant will remind you of these go-to shopping items.
As a rival to Amazon, Walmart's partnership with Google for voice commerce was a no-brainer. This partnership gives Amazon serious competition, as Walmart will be offering such a wide range of products at competitive prices now in a more convenient format.
The service is slated to be available any day now. Walmart is currently offering free delivery on Google Express orders, as long as the order hits the store's minimum purchase requirement ($35). Previously, Google had offered the service to those with a membership of $95 per year. So, whether customers order via Google Assistant or the Google Express website or app, they can enjoy free delivery within one to three days.
Walmart has alluded to future benefits for voice shoppers: "Walmart and Google will also leverage Walmart's 4,700 stores and fulfillment network to create customer experiences that don't currently exist within voice shopping – like picking up orders in store (often for a discount) or the ability to purchase fresh groceries across the country."
With Amazon and Walmart dueling in the voice shopping space, it could have an effect on the in-store shopping culture. For instance, RBC Capital Markets believes that Amazon's Alexa platform alone could be a $10 billion business by 2020. It's impossible to get a good estimate now of what impact Apple's HomePod or Microsoft Cortana speakers could have on that same shopping method.
So, what's a small business owner to do? Familiarize yourself with these various technologies. There are tons of skills in Amazon's Alexa that your business might find helpful, such as Vonage's Conference Manager to sync your calendar and identify your next conference call. Or there's Edit Docs, which lets you create and edit Google Docs with your voice. Web Analytics can even give you updates on the fly regarding your website's Google stats.
Once you have a good idea of how voice tech can help you, consider whether you should create a skill for your business. Amazon's platform makes it pretty painless to create a third-party connection for your company. [Read related story: How to Create an Alexa Skill for Business]
Definitely make sure your online business listings are accurate so that when someone says, "OK Google, find me a hardware store" or whatever type of store you have, your business shows up. To do that, you'll need to make sure your business is listed accurately on as many online directories as possible, including Google My Business and Bing Places. [Read related story: Google for Business: A Small Business Guide]