Walmart announced Tuesday (April 2) Walmart Voice Order, a new voice ordering capability that enables people to use voice commands to shop for groceries.
In a blog post, Tom Ward, senior vice president of digital operations at Walmart, said the retailer is building platforms with partners including Google to help customers shop via voice. Starting in April customers can say “Hey Google, talk to Walmart” and the Google Assistant will add items directly to their Walmart Grocery cart. The technology looks at prior purchases to ensure the item a customer is asking for ends up in the shopping cart. The more times a customer uses it, the better the technology will get. If a customer tells Walmart through Google Assistant to add milk to the shopping cart, it will add the one he or she purchased in the past. That means customers won’t have to say the brand, size or type of milk but just say milk. With Google Assistant available in a slew of devices including Android phones, customers can manage their shopping carts on the go.
“We know when using voice technology, customers like to add items to their cart one at a time over a few days — not complete their shopping for the week all at once. So, this capability aligns with the way customers shop,“ Ward wrote in the post, noting Walmart is launching with Google but will add other voice assistant services in the future. Ward said that during the next few weeks the service will be available to more customers.
Integrating with Google Assistant is the latest move by Walmart to push back from the Amazon competition. Walmart has been embracing a digital strategy, rolling out new services such as the ability to skip the checkout line and order and have groceries delivered. It was dealt a blow in March when Walmart’s Chief Technology Officer Jeremy King announced he is stepping down. According to an internal memo obtained by CNBC, King will be starting “a new adventure soon,” although no specifics were given about where he is headed to next. He is reportedly heading to Pinterest. Fiona Tan, Walmart’s current senior vice president of customer technology, will be stepping up into an “elevated role” while the company looks for a replacement. King’s last day was March 29.