Earlier today, Google announced that you will now be able shop with Google Assistant on Google Home. This duplicates functionality already available on Amazon’s Alexa devices.
Inventory is available from “participating Google Express retailers, including Costco, Whole Foods Market, Walgreens, PetSmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and more than 50 other national and locally available retailers.” To start shopping, you need to set up a delivery address and a payment method in the Google Home app.
Unfortunately, this was not an intuitive process (for me at least), despite suggestions that it would be. I was trying to do this on my daughter’s Home. It might be easier from initial setup with a Google account that already has payment credentials on file.
To motivate adoption and participation, through the end of April, Google is waiving its Google Express delivery and membership charges, which can either be $4.99 per store or $95 for an annual membership. The company also said that it would be adding new features and enabling purchases for third party apps and services.
What will be most interesting to see is how user behavior evolves. As payments come to virtual assistants and they also become call-capable, there are numerous scenarios that could play out. Some surveys have indicated that a portion of Echo-device users are already shopping with Alexa.
Most likely, voice shopping will be used for ordering or reordering already familiar or low-consideration products (including food delivery) and commodities. Ultimately, we’ll probably see dual-device scenarios where (list or menu) lookups occur on smartphones or PCs and orders are placed using voice.
Amazon has a clear advantage over Google in voice-based shopping because of its stronger position in product search/shopping and the fact that the latter has millions of credit cards already on file. There are also millions of credit cards on file with Google, but, as my experience indicated, payment configuring wasn’t as simple as advertised.
Ironically, if you ask the Google Assistant on your Android Pixel phone to “order paper towels,” it will show you “a result from Amazon.”
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