When Google launched the Google Home voice assistant speaker, they demonstrated their commitment to the smart home and the growing trend of voice control, a trend so far led by Amazon. Taking aim at the Echo market, Google launched Home with a big vision but not as many features as enthusiasts would have liked.
Still, 2017 is the year that “works with” Google Home becomes the new “Alexa skill” and no one is counting Google out of the game. The one area where Amazon previously had an inherent lead over Google, of course, was in its powerful commerce engine. Alexa makes it easy to order items from Amazon and, if you’re a Prime member, have them brought straight to your door in two days or less.
But news last week changed that. Google announced via a blog post that it has partnered with a number of big name retailers and added the ability to voice shop from them using Google Assistant. Retail Dive has the full story on Google’s new partnerships, with brands like Costco, Walgreens, Whole Foods, Bed, Bath & Beyond and even Petsmart, Google is clearly trying to cover its commerce bases with everything from food and grocery to household and pharmacy.
Google’s blog post on the announcement gives users a quick walk-through of how to get started. With simple commands like “Ok Google, how do I shop?” Google Assistant will walk users through the process. Or you can also just say “Ok Google, order paper towels” and presumably, it will. It’s less clear exactly who you’re getting paper towels from, though it’s likely you have to set up store preferences in your Google Home account. You also have to add a credit card on file to automatically charge upon ordering.
The blog also says the service is free – for now. After April 30, it appears Google may have plans to create some type of Prime-esque membership for users to be able to take advantage of voice command shopping.
Google’s massive search and data engine give Google Home inherent advantages in the long run over competitive voice assistants like Amazon’s Echo. And with this new shopping feature, they’re looking to grab some of Amazon’s native territory as well.