Daily Management Review

Voice-Shopping Market Via Google Platform To Be Entered By Wal-Mart


Voice-Shopping Market Via Google Platform To Be Entered By Wal-Mart
A market and technology segment that is currently dominated by Amazon.com Inc will see another big player entering the segment as Wal-Mart Stores Inc teams up with Alphabet Inc's Google to enter this nascent voice-shopping market. And this development would add another front to Wal-Mart's battle with the online megastore.
Hundreds of thousands of Walmart items on its voice-controlled Google Assistant platform from late September would be offered by Google, which makes the Android software used to run most of the world's smartphones, informed Walmart's head of e-commerce, Marc Lore through a blog post on Wednesday.
Wal-Mart would offer a wider selection than any retailer on the platform, said Lore, who joined the world's largest retailer after it bought his e-commerce company Jet.com.
With its Echo devices accounting for 72.2 percent of the market in 2016, far ahead of the Google Home gadget's 22 percent, Amazon, whose voice-controlled aide Alexa allows users to shop from the retailer, has the lion's share of the U.S. voice-controlled device industry, according to research firm eMarketer.
Wal-Mart and other brick-and-mortar retailers have also been dominated by Amazon in online sales.
However, by offering discounts to customers who buy online and pick up in-store, and free two-day shipping for purchases of $35 or more, Wal-Mart has begun pushing back aggressively. Its threshold for free shipping has to be lowered by Amazon due to the latter move even though Amazon rarely imitates the competition.
Wal-Mart was also integrating its quick reordering tool into Google's same-day delivery service, Lore said in the blog post.
"One of the primary-use cases for voice shopping will be the ability to build a basket of previously purchased everyday essentials," he said in an interview.
Involving capitalizing on its 4,700 U.S. stores to "create customer experiences that don't currently exist within voice shopping anywhere else", Wal-Mart has bigger plans for voice shopping next year, he added.
He said that to pick up a discounted order in-store or buy fresh groceries across the country, customers might be able to use voice shopping.
But people still mainly use them for such basic tasks as placing phone calls or playing music even though both Amazon and Google's voice-controlled speakers are gaining in popularity.
Amazon has started offering Alexa-only shopping deals in order to boost voice purchases.
"We're still in early days, but shopping isn't yet one of the big uses of the devices," Victoria Petrock, principal analyst at research firm eMarketer, said on Tuesday.
"Obstacles to people using the devices to shop are cost and privacy. A little more than six in 10 people are concerned that these virtual assistants are spying on them."