GOOGLE HAS announced it is to team up with US retail giant Walmart as it attempts to bring its shopping chops for Google Assistant into line with those with rival Amazon Alexa.
Up to now, Amazon has had no real opposition in the "speak to shop" department, but unlikely bedfellows Google and Walmart look set to change all that, bringing Walmart products to its Google Express service.
The company is reacting to the concept of "showrooming", the increasingly common practice of going to a bricks and mortar store, scoping out what you want to buy, then going home and buying it online.
Moreover, a lot of that online buying is going to Amazon, so this process should start to take back some of that control.
Walmart in the US has the delivery infrastructure that would be needed, and from next month it will be using it to "create customer experiences that don't currently exist within voice shopping anywhere else", according to Walmart's head of e-commerce Marc Lore.
The deal covers the US, but it's worth remembering that Walmart has a pretty strong showing in the UK in the form of Asda, second only to Tesco in the supermarket wars, and boasting 631 retail locations as well as a home delivery service.
Meanwhile, Tesco is experimenting with same day delivery, and Argos, which has seen a massive reinvention from catalogue shop to e-tailer with instant click and collect (or delivery), is now owned by Sainsbury's and will likely leverage the joint fleets in the near future.
Meanwhile, we've got no info about Asda's involvement (though with Amazon in bed with Morrisons already, it's a logical choice), though we'd suspect it'd probably be a while before a UK infrastructure was ready to roll, versus the US which will see initial services next month.
Google is said to be offering free delivery with a minimum spend, whereas Amazon still charges £6.99 for groceries on top of the £99 annual Prime charge. But then Amazon is also tinkering with staff-lite bricks and mortar stores. µ
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