Google and Walmart are taking their respective battles against Amazon to the next level with a partnership that nobody saw coming. Starting late September, owners of Google Home will be able to order products from Walmart by voice.
You can order one item at a time, or place items into a shopping bag using Google Home, and then complete the purchase from the Home app. Walmart will also join Google Shopping Express, adding their products to the shopping service.
The partnership is a win-win for both sides. Google wants to increase the utility of its voice assistant, and Walmart wants to give consumers an alternative to shopping on Alexa. If voice shopping grows in popularity, Walmart is the only retailer that could offer a catalog of products that can match Amazon.
“More competition, more choice is great for consumers,” Google’s commerce and ads chief Sridhar Ramaswamy said in response to a question on Amazon’s voice shopping.
As part of this announcement, Google is removing the $95 annual membership fee for the Google Express shopping service. Now shoppers will only pay a $4.99 shipping fee if they do not meet the free-shipping threshold of the partner.
Starting in 2018 the partnership will extend to include in-store pickup and fresh grocery items.
This alliance could not have come at a better time for both Google and Walmart. Fighting Amazon alone, who has a lead in the home voice assistant market, and is making a play for the US grocery market, would be difficult and expensive.