This month, Walmart will enable customers to order groceries by voice on any device with the Google Assistant.
Through the service, called Walmart Voice Order, shoppers will be able to make purchases by saying, “OK Google, talk to Walmart” to their device, and the Google Assistant will add items to their Walmart Grocery cart. Walmart identifies the items that customers request through their order history, and the service learns their preferences as they make more voice transactions. (See the video here.)
Tom Ward, senior vice president of digital operations at Walmart U.S., introduced Walmart Voice Order in a blog post on Tuesday.
“The more you use it, the better we’ll get,” Ward explained in the posting. “For example, if a customer says, ‘Add milk to my cart,” we’ll make sure to add the specific milk the customer buys regularly. Instead of saying, ‘One gallon of 1% Great Value organic milk,’ they’ll simply say one word: ‘milk.’”
Plans call for Walmart Voice Order to roll out to more customers over the next several weeks, Ward said. He noted that because Google Assistant is available on more than a billion devices — such as smart displays like Google Home Hub, smart speakers, Android mobile phones, iPhones and smart watches — customers can manage their shopping carts at home or on the go.
“We know when using voice technology, customers like to add items to their cart one at a time over a few days, not complete their shopping for the week all at once. So this capability aligns with the way customers shop,” Ward said. “It’s cross-platform, which means customers can use any device utilizing Google Assistant, and allows for items to go directly to a customer’s shopping cart, making this capability one of a kind. We’re kicking off the work with Google, adding others to the mix as time goes on.”
Walmart Voice Order stems from a partnership that Walmart and Google announced in August 2017 to enable the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant to offer hundreds of thousands of items for voice shopping via Google Assistant. The effort focused on creating the ability for customers to build a highly personalized shopping basket from recommendations based on their prior purchases of everyday essentials, including the integration of Walmart’s Easy Reorder feature into the Google Express shopping service.
“When it comes to voice shopping, we want to make it as easy as possible for our customers. That’s why it makes sense for us to team up with Google,” Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart eCommerce, said when the partnership with Mountain View, Calif.-based Google was announced. “They’ve made significant investments in natural language processing and artificial intelligence to deliver a powerful voice shopping experience.”
For its 2019 fiscal year ended in January, Walmart saw e-commerce sales climb 40%. The company has driven transactions by enhancing the shopping experience on the front end through services like voice ordering as well as on the back end by bolstering its online fulfillment capabilities. In grocery, Walmart expanded U.S. online delivery to about 800 stores and pickup to more than 2,100 locations during fiscal 2019. The retailer said it expects to have 1,600 delivery and 3,100 pickup locations by the end of fiscal 2020.