Google and Walmart have announced a partnership to bring Walmart voice shopping to the Google Assistant and Google Home. Free delivery will also be available through Google Express, which is changing its pricing structure.
Though not discussed in either company’s blog post, the move is likely a response to Amazon voice shopping via Alexa devices. It’s also part of Walmart’s efforts to increase its e-commerce business and reach new audiences.
The initial use case will be product reordering, but beyond that, Walmart intends to use its data to make personalized shopping recommendations based on purchase history. The company also has ambitious plans for voice shopping and offline fulfillment:
One of the primary use cases for voice shopping will be the ability to build a basket of previously purchased everyday essentials. That’s why we decided to deeply integrate our Easy Reorder feature into Google Express. This will enable us to deliver highly personalized shopping recommendations based on customers’ previous purchases, including those made in Walmart stores and on Walmart.com. To take advantage of this personalization, customers only need to link their Walmart account to Google Express.
And, this is just the beginning. Next year, we will also leverage our 4,700 U.S. stores and our fulfillment network to create customer experiences that don’t currently exist within voice shopping anywhere else, including choosing to pick up an order in store (often for a discount) or using voice shopping to purchase fresh groceries across the country.
A less flashy but equally important part of the announcement is that Google Express will now be free if the order value is above some defined purchase minimum (typically $25–$35). Previously, Google Express was either $10 per month or $95 per year with additional per-order delivery fees. The company undoubtedly made the shift to boost consumer adoption.
Both Google and Walmart are aligned in a battle against Amazon, which has a significant lead in the installed base of voice assistants. According to a recent NPR survey, Amazon has a 76 percent market share among smart speaker owners vs. Google Home’s 16 percent share — 8 percent of smart speaker households have both.
The deal also foreshadows the likely lineups on each side of the battle for voice-orderers, now that Whole Foods shareholders today approved its acquisition by Amazon for nearly $14 billion, an agreement originally announced in June. Whole Foods is currently available on Google Express, but it seems unlikely that will continue to be the case for very long.