NEW YORK: Walmart, the retail giant, is leveraging a partnership with Google as it explores the potential of voice-activated technology for its business.

Marc Lore, President/CEO Walmart Ecommerce US, discussed this subject during a session held at Advertising Week 2017 in New York.

And as part of a mission to become “the best merchants and the best logistics company in the world”, Walmart recently announced a partnership involving Google Home, the tech firm’s voice-activated, interactive speaker.

“Looking again through the lens of merchants,” Lore said, “we need to rethink how, in the new AI-enabled ‘voice’ world, we merchandise products.” (For more details, read WARC’s in-depth report: With acquisitions and partnerships, Walmart no longer plays ecommerce catch-up.)

“That’s the new focus: being an expert in merchandising in this new voice world. And we’re partnering with people like Google – experts in artificial intelligence [that we can] combine with our deep merchandising expertise.”

Consumers can use Google Home devices to order from Walmart. Or, if they want to re-order parts of a purchase, they can tap into the technology to track their shopping history.

Whatever their favorite brand, Google Home will reassure the Walmart shopper that the right product is in the right basket – as well as presenting recommended products based on a user’s past purchases at the chain.

“It’s the perfect partnership in the sense that we are a retailer. We don’t claim to be a tech company,” Lore informed the Advertising Week assembly.

“Google is one of the premier tech companies. The capabilities they have in natural-language processing and artificial intelligence far surpass anything we could ever do on our own. The two of us together are stronger than anyone alone.”

Combining their Walmart purchase history with Google Home is an opt-in service to protect consumer privacy, and a “My Account” dashboard will be transparent about the information being used.

“With the advances we’ve seen in artificial intelligence,” Lore predicted, “it won’t be too long – probably within the next five to ten years – before you’ll be able to talk to a voice assistant in the same way that you would to somebody on the floor of a specialty retailer, someone who knows about all of the products, and, more importantly, knows everything about you.”

Sourced from WARC