Tar­get part­ner­ing with Google for voice shop­ping

Manteca Bulletin - - Dollars & Sense -

NEW YORK (AP) — Tar­get is jump­ing into voice-ac­ti­vated shop­ping as it deep­ens its re­la­tion­ship with Google, of­fer­ing thou­sands of items found in the store ex­cept for per­ish­ables like fruit and milk.

The move is hap­pen­ing as Google says shop­ping will be avail­able later this year through Google As­sis­tant on iPhone and An­droid phones, join­ing its Google Home de­vice and An­droid TV. So shop­pers can shout out or­ders to their phone while they’re run­ning around do­ing er­rands or just walk­ing.

Tar­get Corp. joins Walmart and Home De­pot among oth­ers in part­ner­ing with Google on voice shop­ping as they seek to com­pete against Ama­zon’s dom­i­nance with its Echo de­vices. Ama­zon started of­fer­ing Echo voice as­sis­tants in late 2014, while Google made its de­but with Google Home ear­lier this year.

Tar­get is also ex­pand­ing na­tion­wide its Google Ex­press pro­gram that of­fers faster de­liv­ery from a test pro­gram in New York City and Cal­i­for­nia. Shop­pers will be able to get de­liv­er­ies within two days since the items will be shipped to a nearby Tar­get store for free pro­vided the pur­chase meets the $35 or­der min­i­mum. Next year, Tar­get shop­pers will be able to pick up their on­line pur­chases at a Tar­get store where or­ders are ready in two hours as part of the Google Ex­press pro­gram. They’ll also be able to use Tar­get’s loy­alty card as an op­tion for Google Ex­press shop­pers, giv­ing them such ben­e­fits as a 5 per­cent dis­count off most pur­chases.

Like many re­tail­ers, Tar­get has been of­fer­ing more shop­ping op­tions. This past sum­mer, for ex­am­ple, the Min­neapo­lis dis­counter be­gan ex­pand­ing its next-day es­sen­tials de­liv­ery ser­vice that it was test­ing to the At­lanta, Chicago, Los An­ge­les, New York, Philadel­phia, San Fran­cisco, St. Louis, and Wash­ing­ton, D.C./Bal­ti­more ar­eas.

“We have lots of dif­fer­ent choices of how they buy from us,” said Mike McNa­mara, Tar­get’s chief in­for­ma­tion and dig­i­tal of­fi­cer. He be­lieves that voice shop­ping will be more preva­lent in the next few years.

More de­vices are in the hands of shop­pers. Even Ap­ple has one com­ing out this year. But the key is per­son­al­iz­ing the or­der so if a con­sumer shouts out “de­ter­gent,” the voice as­sis­tant will know the ex­act brand that the shop­per wants. Tar­get says that it will give cus­tomers the op­tion to link their ac­counts with Google Ex­press for more per­son­al­ized shop­ping. In fact, Walmart, which went live with voice shop­ping last week, is in­te­grat­ing its easy re­order fea­ture — which has data on both store and on­line pur­chases — into Google Ex­press. Shop­pers who want to re­order their fa­vorites have to link their Walmart ac­count to Google Ex­press.

Ama­zon doesn’t give sales fig­ures for Echo, but Con­sumer In­tel­li­gence Re­search Part­ners es­ti­mated that the Seat­tle com­pany has sold more than 10 mil­lion Alexa-pow­ered Echo de­vices in the U.S. since late 2014. That in­cludes the core Echo, as well as the less ex­pen­sive and smaller Echo Dot and the por­ta­ble Ama­zon Tap. Ac­cord­ing to For­rester Re­search, 12 per­cent of shop­pers own some voice de­vice like Echo or Google Home. And 29 per­cent of them use the de­vice for some shop­ping, For­rester says.

To be more com­pet­i­tive with Ama­zon, Google Ex­press scrapped the $95-a-year mem­ber­ship in Au­gust, al­low­ing shop­pers to get free de­liv­ery on or­ders within one to three days, as long as the pur­chase is above each store’s min­i­mum.

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