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Google & Walmart Take the Fight to Amazon

Mitch Wagner

Google and Walmart are teaming up to allow consumers to buy Walmart products by voice using Google Assistant.

The partnership will allow consumers to buy "everything from laundry detergent to Legos," according to a post on Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s company blog signed by Sridhar Ramaswarmy, senior vice president ofads and commerce. Consumers can use the Google Home device -- Google's competitor to Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) Echo -- or the Google Express website or app. Existing Walmart customers can link to their Walmart account for personalized shopping results. "For example, if you order Tide PODS or Gatorade, your Google Assistant will let you know which size and type you previously ordered from Walmart, making it easy for you to buy the right product again," Ramaswarmy says.

Google, which previously partnered with Costco and Target, will offer free delivery on Google Express on orders above each store's minimum.

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Next year, Walmart will leverage its 4,700 US stores and its fulfillment network to allow consumers to pick up orders in store, often for a discount, or use voice shopping to buy fresh groceries, Marc Lore, Walmart president and CEO of US e-commerce, writes on Walmart's blog.

"The increasing importance of voice shopping suggests Wal-Mart and Google, part of Alphabet Inc., need each other to compete against Amazon," according to the Wall Street Journal. "Voice-controlled ordering is a small but rapidly growing share of online sales, analysts say, and one of the top reasons to use Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa and its Echo speakers."

The Journal continues:

Amazon effectively invented voice shopping, which allows users to easily order goods, like toilet paper and diapers, thanks to Amazon's vast data set on customers' past purchases. A significant portion of online shopping is made up of consumers reordering the same staples. That is well-adapted to voice ordering because a device can recall the preferred brand, size and type, without requiring shoppers to scan through different product listings.

"When I buy a product that I don't care about, it is actually a pain for me to go to a website and find an item and check out," said Forrester analyst Brendan Witcher, a former retail executive. "If I can simply say, send me dishwashing soap... and you send it, that's much easier on me as a consumer."

About 30% of Amazon Echo customers buy something on their device at least once a week, according to a Consumer Intelligence Research Partners survey as reported by the Journal.

Google and Walmart both have Amazon on top of their enemies' list, so it makes sense for them to partner. Google is going up against Amazon in the enterprise cloud. (See Google's Big Enterprise Cloud Bet and Google's Pichai: Cloud's One of Our 'Biggest Bets'.)

And Amazon is, of course, a top retail competitor to Walmart. Amazon leads in online retail, and is encroaching on Walmart's brick-and-mortar turf with its $13.7 billion bid to buy Whole Foods. (See Amazon Steals Big Microsoft Customer With Whole Foods Purchase.)

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— Mitch Wagner Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn profile Visit my blog Friend me on Facebook Editor, Enterprise Cloud News

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