Target joins other retailers in offering voice shopping
Company is partnering with Google; delivery is free for orders over $35
“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.