Google and Walmart are joining forces to better compete with Amazon in the e-commerce market.
Amazon has long dominated the e-commerce market, and has recently been setting its sights on brick-and-mortar retailing as well. Its acquisition of Whole Foods has incited panic among physical retailers in the grocery industry largely due to the fact that no other single company in the retail or grocery industry can yet compete on Amazon’s level—however, a partnership between these major companies may just stand a chance.
The partnership will make Walmart’s products available through Google Express, Google’s online retail platform. Google Express has already partnered with companies like Costco and Bed, Bath & Beyond. Adding Walmart to its list of partners will boost Google Express’s product offerings and give them access to a much wider customer base. The partnership will also give Walmart a significant advantage: access to voice ordering. Customers will be able to use Google’s voice-activated personal assistant on phones and other devices to order products. Google Express was first launched in 2013, but wasn’t available across the entirety of the United States until last year.
Voice-controlled ordering isn’t the norm yet, but there’s a good chance that some day it could be. Its popularity is growing rapidly, especially with Amazon users who have access to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa and compatible Amazon Echo speakers. Google’s voice ordering will compete with Alexa’s voice ordering functionalities, something that Walmart would likely not be able to do on its own as a primarily brick-and-mortar retail chain. Walmart will reportedly also allow its customers to link their accounts with Google Express, simplifying ordering and ensuring they can re-order their favourite products and brands with ease. While Google relies on third-party services to fulfill orders from many of its retailers, Walmart has said that it will stock and fulfill Google Express orders itself, something that is sure to appeal to consumers. Said Walmart’s Marc Lore, head of the company’s e-commerce division, “We are trying to help customers shop in ways that they may have never imagined.”
Additionally, incentives such as free shipping, easy re-ordering, and reduced membership fees will likely entice consumers to use Google Express services. While this partnership isn’t starting out with the same reach, inventory, and delivery capabilities as Amazon does, it will still be challenging the giant’s dominance in the market (though to what extent still remains to be seen).
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