Earlier this week Google announced that owners of Google Home will be able to use Google Assistant to do voice shopping from participating retailers on Google Express. Amazon first launched voice shopping with Amazon Alexa on Amazon Echo devices at the start of the holiday season last year, and even had a blowout Alexa-only voice shopping weekend to kick things off.
Now, Google has followed suit and made voice shopping a feature on Google Home, the smart speaker introduced to the market along with Google Pixel smartphones in October 2016. To make the deal even sweeter, Google is waiving all additional membership and service fees until the end of April 2017.
To kick things off, you can head to “More Settings” on the Google Home app, scroll down to “Payments” and enter your default credit card details and delivery address. That’s about all you need to do to set it up.
Once that’s done, you simply say “Ok Google, how do I shop?”, or just “Ok Google, order XYZ.”
And that’s all. Or is it?
Will/Can Google Compete with Amazon in the Retail Space?
To say that Amazon Alexa will offer tough competition to Google Assistant on Google Home is a gross understatement. Though a lot of work has gone into setting up Google Express, it’s a drop in the ocean compared to what Amazon has on offer every single day.
And what’s more, Alexa being a conduit for Amazon’s core business of retail, even the best technology that Google can throw at Amazon doesn’t hide the fact that Google’s strong areas are definitely not anywhere in the vicinity of retail.
That doesn’t mean voice shopping on Google Home won’t get its share of market in this newly formed segment. Google is the search king so, naturally, some people are going to gravitate to it in the hope that superior search capability will help them find the “real” best price on an item.
We also need to keep in mind that Google is leveraging big box retailers to counter Amazon’s tremendous inventory. Voice shopping with a Google Home device brings brands like Costco, Whole Foods Market, PetSmart and Bed Bath & Beyond right to your home – all the advantages of big box prices, with the convenience of online ordering and home delivery.
The voice shopping industry is barely a few months old, but it has the potential to disrupt the way we shop online. Granted, you may not buy an iPhone or a Windows PC using voice shopping (that will change), but for now let’s just say you’ll never have to worry about running out of toilet paper as long as you can say Ok Google or Hey Alexa.
Voice shopping is a natural evolutionary offshoot of online shopping. We don’t know how big it will become. But now, there are at least 2 half-trillion-dollar companies investing their money, time and effort into creating a new sales channel for product companies.
Both companies are undoubtedly going to leverage voice shopping heavily during the 2017 holiday season and practically every major festival or special event until then.
The segment is not yet at a point where we can see some actual numbers and results, but with smart home devices emerging as one of the most valuable components of the Internet of Things ecosystem, it’s safe to say that voice shopping is not going to be a flash in the pan.
As Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are integrated more widely into smartphones, refrigerators, TVs, cars and so on, we’ll see more and more retail volume going through voice channels.
The voice shopping industry might not explode overnight since it is still a novelty, but we’re going to see it get increasingly bigger as both Amazon and Google push forward with their respective voice shopping agendas.
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