Tar­get joins other re­tail­ers in of­fer­ing voice shop­ping

Com­pany is part­ner­ing with Google; de­liv­ery is free for or­ders over $35

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Kavita Ku­mar

“OK, Google, or­der Archer Farms trail mix.”

Shop­pers are now able to make their Tar­get runs by say­ing such com­mands out loud while us­ing Google’s voice as­sis­tant — ei­ther through a Google Home de­vice or, soon, through a smart­phone.

The Min­neapo­lis-based re­tailer an­nounced the voice-as­sisted shop­ping ca­pa­bil­ity with Google on Thurs­day and said it would ex­pand its part­ner­ship with shop­ping and de­liv­ery ser­vice Google Ex­press across the con­ti­nen­tial U.S. af­ter test­ing it the last few years in San Fran­cisco, Los An­ge­les and New York.

Tar­get, like other re­tail­ers, is play­ing catchup to Ama­zon, which en­abled shop­ping from its Echo de­vices (with voice Alexa) more than a year ago.

Ear­lier this year, Google in­tro­duced voice shop­ping as a fea­ture through Google Home in part­ner­ship with Costco, Wal­greens, Pets­mart and oth­ers. In re­cent weeks, Walmart and Home De­pot also have an­nounced sim­i­lar linkups.

“Voice is be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant way for peo­ple to search the In­ter­net, and it will be­come a more and more im­por­tant means for them to shop,” said Mike McNa­mara, Tar­get’s chief dig­i­tal and in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer, in an in­ter­view.

Ama­zon’s Echo de­vices cur­rently dom­i­nate the voice-con­trolled speak­ers mar­ket with 76 per­cent mar­ket share. Google Home has 24 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to Con-

sumer In­tel­li­gence Re­search Part­ners.

But McNa­mara noted that Google also an­nounced on Thurs­day that it will soon be bring­ing its voice as­sis­tant to el­i­gi­ble An­droid phones and iPhones.

“Google is the best out there in voice when you look at how they’re go­ing to have a voice en­able­ment in more peo­ple’s homes than any­body else,” he said.

In us­ing Google’s voice as­sis­tant and Google Ex­press, shop­pers will be able to shop for about 100,000 items from Tar­get with the ex­cep­tion, for now, of per­ish­able food. Shop­pers com­plete the pur­chase through the Google Home or Google Ex­press app. The or­ders are filled by lo­cal Tar­get stores, and Google’s fleet of driv­ers de­liver them to cus­tomers’ doorsteps two days later.

The av­er­age de­liv­ery time on most or­ders from Tar­get.com is two to four days. In New York City, Los An­ge­les, and San Fran­cisco, same-day de­liv­ery is also an op­tion through Google Ex­press.

Just like Tar­get.com, de­liv­ery is free for or­ders of more than $35.

Next year, Tar­get plans to build out more ca­pa­bil­i­ties such as by al­low­ing Red­card hold­ers to get their 5 per­cent dis­count and free ship­ping perks through Google Ex­press. McNa­mara also said the com­pany hopes to em­bed other ser­vices such as Tar­get Re­stock into the voice-as­sisted of­fer­ing.

“A re­peat or­der is go­ing to be phe­nonemonal on some­thing like the Google As­sis­tant or the Google Home be­cause you don’t have to say which laun­dry de­ter­gent to buy, from your past pur­chase his­tory we know it’s Tide,” said McNa­mara.

But it won’t be as easy when shop­pers are search­ing for some­thing like a red dress. So Tar­get will be work­ing with Google on find­ing ways to bet­ter uti­lize the ca­pa­bil­ity for ap­parel and home goods.

While fresh food is not cur­rently part of Tar­get’s of­fer­ing through Google Ex­press, McNa­mara said the re­tailer is work­ing to add that cat­e­gory to the ser­vice next year.

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