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Google, Walmart Partner On Shop-By-Voice

Pact will cover hundreds of thousands of products 8/23/2017 08:15:00 AM Eastern

Your wish is their command.

Beginning in late September, Walmart customers will be able to purchase hundreds of thousands of items from the discount chain by barking their orders into a Google Home speaker or a mobile device.

The voice-shopping pact, announced today, leverages Google Assistant, the company’s virtual digital assistant, and its Google Express shopping app. Walmart customers will be able to link their accounts to the latter for easy reorder of frequently purchased products, and to receive personalized shopping recommendations based on past selections.

While national chains including Target, Costco, Walgreens and Whole Foods are already utilizing the Express platform, Walmart said its new partnership provides the largest product assortment offered by a retailer through Google Assistant.

Walmart also plans to expand the service next year by utilizing its fulfillment network and 4,700 stores to offer additional options like in-store pickup and shop-by-voice for fresh groceries nationwide.

The move represents a counteroffensive to Amazon’s relentless retail expansion and its Alexa virtual assistant platform, which dominates the voice-control market. As Walmart U.S. e-commerce president/CEO Marc Lore noted in a corporate blog, Google has “made significant investments in natural language processing and artificial intelligence to deliver a powerful voice shopping experience. We know this means being compared side-by-side with other retailers, and we think that’s the way it should be. An open and transparent shopping universe is good for customers.”

Lore, the Internet innovator and former Amazon employee who launched Jet.com, has been leading the charge to catch up with the No. 1 e-tailer by developing in-store and online innovations that leverage Walmart’s vast real estate holdings.

Related: How Walmart Is Thinking Outside The (Big) Box

“Our new voice shopping capability … will give our customers a compelling new way to get what they need at low prices,” he added. “We will continue to focus on creating new opportunities to simplify people’s lives and help them shop in ways they’ve not yet imagined.”

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