Google has announced a partnership with Walmart that will let you order household items using Google Assistant and your voice. It comes amid a surge in interest in voice shopping and transformative retail experiences. Google also offers free delivery.
The company announced the mutual arrangement in a blog post yesterday. Describing the coming launch as an “exciting partnership,” Google said it’s expanding its Express service to include Walmart based on user feedback.
Google Express lets you shop with the Google Assistant. You can tell the Assistant to order products for you using just your voice. The AI helps you choose which product to pick by reminding you of your past orders. You can complete the entire transaction with your voice, through picking delivery options to paying with your saved card details.
“We’re entering an exciting partnership with Walmart to bring you hundreds of thousands of products at Walmart’s Every Day Low Prices – everything from laundry detergent to Legos – that you can buy through voice with your Assistant on Google Home or on the Google Express website or app,” said Google. “We’re thrilled to partner with one of the most popular stores in America to help make your shopping faster and easier.”
The partnership with Walmart comes as the retail industry prepares for a big push towards voice shopping. The field is being led by Amazon and its Alexa assistant. During Prime Day, the company pushed shoppers to give Alexa purchases a try. Special discounts were available for people using voice shopping for the first time.
Retailers are exploring how voice interfaces could aid their businesses. Walmart’s partnership with Google will serve as a high-profile example of what digital assistants can offer to the retail industry. One leading digital experience provider said voice interfaces will be accepted by consumers and retailers as a more intuitive way to shop.
“We live in an age of convenience and ease of use. AI-first engagement, especially through voice, is a natural progression from touch activities,” said Michael Levine, VP of Marketing at Photon. “Voice adds a deeper, faster level of context for customer engagement than typing, swiping or pressing ever will. In one breath, you can order what you want, the size you need it in and the shipping option of choice versus the traditional way of search and browse.”
Voice shopping could evolve into one of the most natural ways to purchase online products. In the same way you ask a market seller for groceries or tell a store assistant what you’re looking for, Alexa and Google Assistant will guide you through purchases and complete your transactions.
For major retailers like Walmart, digital transformation comes now. Buying in to the future early ensures they’ll remain one step ahead of the crowd. The partnership also gives Google’s service credence with consumers, demonstrating big brands are already convinced. The long-term impact will see more users try out voice shopping, moving retail beyond the screen.
Amazon rival Rakuten buys mobile ordering and pickup startup Curbside
Rival to Amazon and Japanese retail giant Rakuten has acquired Silicon Valley mobile ordering and pickup startup Curbside. Details of the all-cash deal were not disclosed, but the acquisition could be a boon for the Japanese e-commerce company.
Mobile solutions for brick and mortar businesses
Founded in 2013 by former Apple engineers Jaron Waldman and Denis Laprise, Curbside has a suite of features that deal with all aspects of mobile commerce for restaurants and brick and mortar retail stores. Their most popular feature, ARRIVE, tracks customer’s journeys to predict when they’ll be approaching and arriving to have the product ready in an instant.
In its suite, Curbside’s offers programs that build online stores, fill online orders in-store and grow store traffic.
According to Tech Crunch, the terms of the “all-cash” deal were not released. Curbside has previously raised between USD$40 and $50 million from investors like CVS, Index Ventures, Sutter Hull Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures and Chicago Ventures
According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Curbside was valued at more than USD$100 million in 2015 during its last venture round.
Part of the family
In the press release from Curbside, co-founder and CEO Jaron Waldman writes, “For our customers and partners the headline is that nothing will change. Curbside will operate independently as a Rakuten-owned company with our team, services, partners and product offerings all remaining intact.”
Yaz Iida, President of Rakuten USA, Inc said in a press release “Welcoming Curbside to the Rakuten family is all about the consumer, and we are excited to be able to empower consumers with even more ways to enjoy shopping.”
Mario Pinho, CFO of Rakuten, welcomed Curbside “to the Rakuten family” on LinkedIn.
Earlier this year, Rakuten announced that it’s building a customer loyalty program based on blockchain technology, and building its own cryptocurrency, Rakuten Coin.
How brick and mortar grocers benefit from digital transformation
Brick and mortar grocery retailers have the potential to adopt artificial intelligence to help with stocking their stores, pricing their products and being competitive with online retailers like Amazon.
Michael Feindt, the founder of AI firm Blue Yonder that specializes in helping retailers adopt AI to change how they carry out their core processes, wrote an article in Silicon Republic about how grocery chains can use AI to operate smarter.
With online grocers rapidly adopting AI, Feindt writes that it’s important for brick and mortar retailers to “move beyond their legacy infrastructure and adopt the technologies of digital transformation.” These technologies include AI and machine learning.
Revolutionising warehouse #technology.#video #tech #supplychain #business #manufacturing #innovation #innovate #AI #artificialIntelligence #Robots #Robot #Robotics #Grocery #Shopping #Ecommerce #VR #ML #MachineLearning #MachineIntelligence #Infosec #Fintech #Data #DataScience pic.twitter.com/UDSrLJNqcw
— Orcan Intelligence (@Orcanintell) June 2, 2018
To stay competitive in a market that’s increasingly focused on consumer satisfaction, Feindt writes that adopting AI can help grocery chains stock their stores more efficiently in an effort to reduce waste and ensure customers get what they want, as well as price their products according to real-time data on deals and promotions offered by other stores.
“Is this the Future of Retail?” – This grocery store actually comes to you. Awesome idea! pic.twitter.com/yp5R7QE7G1 #retail #AI #retailtech #DX #custexp #4IR #IoT #mobility #tech #MachineLearning #innovation
— Sean Gardner (@2morrowknight) June 2, 2018
Feindt writes that stock and pricing in brick and mortar stores — two traditionally human-led domains — need to start using the data they have, and use AI to help process that data.
Paul Clarke, the CTO at Ocado (the company behind the grocery robots shown earlier) told The Telegraph that AI is “critical” to the industry, and where it’s heading.
“From our point of view artificial intelligence is the one to rule them all when it comes to the set of disruptive technologies that power our business and we already make extensive use of machine learning across our platform,” said Clarke. “But really we just think we’re getting started.”
It’s also easier than ever before for grocery chains to go beyond self-service checkouts and start using AI to optimize business, below is an infographic detailing 65 tech startups that use artificial intelligence, virtual reality… etc to usher grocery store operations into the future. This list is packed, but it’s not exhaustive.
— CB Insights (@CBinsights) May 30, 2018
From using AI to combat food contamination to giving allergy-sufferers peace of mind when shopping to programming shopping carts to follow consumers around the store, there are endless ways that AI can enhance grocery operations and produce tangible results.
Here’s the thing about how digital transformation will impact your business
Here’s the thing about digital transformation: Everyone knows it’s happening.
But it’s hard to know which new technology or innovation is going to be the one that upends your industry, opens up massive opportunity, threatens your company, or forever alters your role.
Today we’re introducing a new, custom-tailored service to help you figure that out. The service combines journalism, research and market analysis to help you and your team understand the state of digital transformation (DX) and explore the key developments that will impact your employees and industry.
We call this our “Here’s the thing about…” service. Teaming up with the DX Journal, we leverage journalists, analysts, researchers and strategists to help your company get a full picture of:
- What is likely to impact your industry
- Your team’s readiness to deal with it
- An in-depth look at major developments you need to pay attention to
Here’s how it works:
This service is designed to give perspective on how digital transformation will impact your company. We present our findings in an easy-to-understand format breaking down trends for multiple departments and for every skill set with documented takeaways and action items.
We uncover and share those findings in a simple, two-step process:
Step 1: Research & interview process
- Custom research on digital transformation trends impacting your industry, customers, and competitors.
- One-on-one interviews with your company’s executives, department heads or managers, employees and/or customers.
Step 2: Research presentation
- A presentation to your company in an internal keynote-style presentation to any size group — be it a small strategy team or an all-hands employee seminar.
- Our team of researchers, journalists and analysts will share the research findings, key trends in your industry and provide an overview of how well you’re set up to address challenges or embrace opportunities based on the employee interviews.
Who this service is for:
Let’s start by clarifying that digital transformation is not just an IT problem. Our clients are often leaders who are not technologists. In fact, many companies we speak with are surprised to learn how many areas of the business are impacted by DX, including marketing, HR, IT, sales, operations, legal, and others.
There’s no escaping that every area of a business is going to have to manage change that digital transformation brings. Digital transformation should not be left for the IT department alone to figure out.
With that in mind, we’ve designed this report and presentation service most commonly for executives and managers in:
- Operations, finance & strategy
- Human resource departments
- Marketing and sales departments
- IT departments
Sure, you might not have to deal with artificial intelligence in your accounting department tomorrow. Or chatbots in your HR department. Or big data solutions for your manufacturing warehouse. But how can you be sure if you don’t understand these emerging technologies? What if your competitors are? And what if they’re getting a 6-month head start?
To get started, please contact the DX Institute.
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
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