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Wednesday
Aug232017

Google, Walmart team up to offer voice-activated shopping

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Walmart is partnering with Google in an effort to dip its toes into the voice-shopping market as voice-activated devices become more mainstream, the companies announced Wednesday.

The partnership will allow Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, to offer hundreds of thousands of items via Google Assistant beginning in late September -- the largest number of items currently offered by any retailer through the voice-controlled platform, Walmart said Wednesday.

According to Walmart, the partnership would allow it to "create customer experiences that don't currently exist within voice shopping anywhere else."

“When it comes to voice shopping, we want to make it as easy as possible for our customers,” Walmart's head of e-commerce, Marc Lore, wrote in a blog post on Wednesday. “We know this means being compared side-by-side with other retailers, and we think that’s the way it should be.”

Walmart also plans to integrate its quick reordering tool into the tech company’s same-day delivery service, Google Express, according to Lore.

Google has “significant investments in natural language processing and artificial intelligence to deliver a powerful voice shopping experience," he added. "That’s why it makes sense for us to team up with Google."

Google called it an “exciting partnership” in a blog post on its website early Wednesday.

“We’re thrilled to partner with one of the most popular stores in America to help make your shopping faster and easier,” Google said in a statement.

Voice-enabled speaker usage is forecast to grow nearly 130 percent this year, according to consumer research provider eMarketer.

Amazon currently controls about 70 percent of the voice-enabled speaker device market with its Echo device, while Google controls about 24 percent of the market, according to eMarketer's research.

The rest of the market share is divvied up among smaller competitors, including Lenovo, LG, Harmon Kardon and Mattel.

“Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the technology, which is driving engagement,” Martín Utreras, vice president of forecasting at eMarketer, said in a recent research note. “As prices decrease and functionality increases, consumers are finding more reasons to adopt these devices.”

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