Walmart and Google, together at last. This week, Walmart announced a partnership with Google to add voice-controlled shopping functionalities to Google Assistant as part of a new “Walmart Voice Order” feature.
According to Walmart, beginning this month, customers can say, “Hey Google, talk to Walmart” and the Google Assistant will add items directly to their Walmart Grocery cart. The new ordering feature lets users add food to their cart, using order history to know which product brand and size to add.
Voice search can make it easier for repeat customers, especially in the grocery industry, to save past history and reorder items in a quick, seamless manner, which can be particularly useful given the rise in grocery delivery services. Customers can be extra confident that Walmart can quickly and accurately identify the items they are asking for with the help of information from their prior purchases.
The one caveat is that Walmart Voice Order is only being made available to customers of the 2,100-plus Walmart’s with store pick-up and the more than 800 stores that offer delivery. However, it’s clear that Walmart’s focus on e-commerce continues to be a major focus for the chain, with online sales fueled by groceries jumping 43% in their most recent earnings statement.
Voice-enabled shopping taking off
Voice-enabled shopping is expected to jump to $40 billion in 2022, up from $2 billion today, suggesting the new channel may well be the next major disruptive force in retail, according to data from OC&C Strategy Consultants.
Retailers that will benefit the most from voice-enabled shopping interfaces will be those capitalizing on existing capabilities and helping develop new ones providing the customer with unique and engaging experiences that not only simplify the transaction process, but also help customers make smarter decisions over products. In tandem with smarter decision making, voice-enabled shopping allows for convenience and ease-of-use with natural interaction. It enables people who are driving. It enables people to hear a recipe while cooking.
AI leading to higher conversion rate
Successful voice technology integration must be customer-focused and attune with each user’s needs in order to expand existing capabilities creating a differentiated value. Voice-enabled shopping must also ensure that customer experiences are truly innovative in that the solutions can learn and utilize the experiences from previous interactions, within and across channels.
For grocers, conversational artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly changing the shopping landscape. According to an article from Progressive Grocer, several brands have adopted contextual commerce including Peapod which launched Ask Peapod. Alexa allows for hands-free voice ordering to enable immediate, in-the-moment additions to shoppers’ weekly grocery carts. In a similar fashion Boxed, an online club store, added Bulky, a chatbot which, through Facebook Messenger, lets users interact like they’re chatting with another human online to track orders, build baskets and find new products.
As voice-shopping and AI-led solutions continue to become more of a staple in the retail landscape, voice technology and conversational AI will inevitably be integrated into the in-store experience. With the technology only set to improve, voice search will gradually evolve to provide a seamless experience and become a reliable shopping avenue for consumers.