Walmart has begun piloting technology to allow busy consumers to text the retailer products they want to purchase.
Dominique Essig, vice president of conversational commerce for Walmart’s Store No8 incubation arm, said in a blog post Thursday that her unit and the retailer’s global technology team have launched a beta test of Walmart Text to Shop in selected markets. With the solution, customers can send Walmart text messages naming products to add to their shopping list or virtual cart on Walmart.com or in the Walmart mobile app.
“We’re learning a lot about when and how customers prefer a conversational experience, and we look forward to making this more widely available in the future,” Essig said.
Walmart Text to Shop builds on the Bentonville, Ark.-based retail giant’s multiyear efforts to enable voice commerce, including through partnerships with Google via the Google Assistant and Alexa virtual assistant and with Apple via its Siri virtual assistant.
“Walmart gets it, and we’re here to make the shopping process simple and convenient,” according to Essig. “This type of innovative customer experience is exactly what we build every day. And while Walmart has offered voice shopping for years, text shopping is just getting warmed up.”
'Text shopping is just getting warmed up,' said Dominique Essig, VP of conversational commerce at Walmart.
Today’s on-the-go consumers often conjure up a “mental grocery list” while performing other tasks, such as driving the kids to school, and voice and text functionality enable them to add needed items along the way, noted Essig.
“We’re doing laundry and remembering it’s our turn to bring snacks to soccer practice. We’re doctoring a kid’s boo-boo and realizing we’re almost out of Band-Aids,” she explained. “Soon, our supermom will simply be able to say, ‘OK, Google, add Band-Aids to my Walmart cart.’ Whether she's using a Google or Apple device, commands like this one open the Walmart app and add Band-Aids — the superhero Band-Aids Walmart knows are the household favorite — to her cart, and she doesn’t have to lift a finger.
So how close are customers to being able to text Walmart their shopping list? I’m excited to say that Store No8 and Walmart’s Global Tech team are currently testing a beta experience, Walmart Text to Shop, with customers in select areas.”
In a video with Rebecca Nathenson, director of product management for Google Assistant developer platform at Google, Essig cited the growth potential of conversational commerce, led by voice. By 2030, 30% of e-commerce sales are expected be driven by voice shopping, she said.
“Food was really the last frontier in 2020 in e-commerce. We saw tremendous growth and families going online to purchase the items that they need. So I’m incredibly excited about voice commerce and how it can help families,” Essig said in the Google VOICE Talks video. “I think there’s tremendous opportunity here to help customers.”
Personalization also is a linchpin of voice and text commerce, Essig wrote in her blog. By understanding customers’ preferences when they shop, Walmart can save them time by serving up “what we know they love best” in terms of favorite or regularly purchased items, she explained.
“Most importantly, we offer Walmart customers the opportunity to shop no matter where they are and to communicate naturally by simply asking for what they want, any way they want,” Essig said. “The advantage of conversational commerce is that customers can communicate with Walmart the way they communicate with friends and family: easy, convenient — no need to learn how to use a new platform. Let’s face it, we’ll [consumers will] never stop trying to do a million things at once. Our hope is that conversational commerce can help ease the stress of the never-ending to-do list.”