- Google has made its Google Home digital assistant more like Amazon’s Alexa-driven devices by introducing a new shopping function per a company blog post.
- Google Home owners will be able to place orders by voice via participating Google Express retailers including Costco, Whole Foods Market, Walgreens, PetSmart, Bed Bath & Beyond and more.
- Users can go to the Google Home app and, under “More settings,” go to “Payments” to set up delivery address and credit card information. According to Google it will add new features and enable purchases for other apps and services in the coming months.
Google and Amazon are in something of a features race with competing home digital assistants. Google’s latest move gives Home a capability that has helped Amazon gain a leading edge in the category, as placing orders via the Echo has proven a natural fit for the devices. Google could have a harder time making a go of shopping on Home as the company is not readily associated with e-commerce the way Amazon is.
Previous efforts by Google to drive shopping have not gone over well, such as Google Checkout, which no longer exists and Google Wallet, whose focus has shifted from payments to loyalty. That Google is making another attempt at e-commerce points to how important online shopping is to providing well-rounded digital services.
Marketers should take note that these devices are likely to become an important channel in reaching an audience and a direct line to consumers for their products in some cases. One of the benefits of smart speakers is that they can provide platforms with meaningful insight into users. So far Amazon has been fairly stingy with sharing the data it collects through Alexa interactions so it will be interesting to see how Google handles this new trove of consumer data obtained though Google Home shopping.
In other news about the competing technologies, this week the Wall Street Journal reported that both Google and Amazon are looking into adding phone capabilities to Home and Alexa-driven devices although there remain some technical and privacy issues before those features make it into people’s homes.