Walmart Voice Order Comes to Google Assistant

Walmart is getting into the voice shopping game! Last week the company announced Walmart Voice Order with Google Assistant, a direct challenge to Amazon's dominance in the voice shopping world. That may not be an easy row to hoe, considering the Amazone owns the entire ecosystem--including all of its user data--but some think there's a reason to be bullish for Walmart. 

"Although Walmart will not own its ecosystem on Google Assistant-powered platforms in the way that Amazon does with Echo and shopping on Echo, it is still in a strong position to compete," says Eli Finkelshteyn, CEO and co-founder of Constructor.io. "Voice search and shopping are still very much a nascent and quickly expanding market where, so far, Google has been much stronger than Amazon. Back in 2016, Google stated 20% of their searches already had voice intent, and ComScore predicts by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches. Compare that to searches and purchases on the Echo, whereas late as August of 2018, only 2% of Echo users had made a voice purchase, and a whopping 90% of those declined to do so a second time. Taking these numbers into account, Google looks like a very strong partner that’s rapidly figuring out voice search, while Amazon looks to be failing at voice search and commerce."

As Finkelshteyn points out, voice shopping isn't quite mainstream yet. While Google's numbers may suggest it has an edge, those 2016 figures were drawn from data that preceded Google Home--meaning much of the data would have come from voice searches on devices (like smartphones) with a visual display, where shoppers can still see and confirm their purchases visually even when using their voices to do the work.  That being said, Finkelshteyn thinks Google still has a good chance to succeed: "Some studies do show that voice shopping is not yet mainstream, especially with the Echo. Despite this, usage of voice search is growing and user experience around it is improving. Walmart is joining an elite group of retailers including Amazon and Sephora who have realized that although voice search user experience still has room to improve, and users still need to be trained on and get used to it, it is the future. As users try more voice searches, trust the experience will understand their intent, and realize they can get fine-grained intent across faster, with natural phrases like 'show me the top rated mascara,' or 'find me lipstick under $50,' they will use the technology more. Walmart wants to make sure they are one of the first to understand voice search, so when usage goes up, they can have an excellent experience waiting for their users."

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