Walmart and Google announced a new partnership that will enable voice shopping through Google Assistant, Google’s virtual assistant that lives on devices like its smart speaker, Google Home. Specifically, consumers will now be able to take advantage of Walmart’s “Easy Reorder” feature through an integration with its shopping service, Google Express. This will allow consumers to shop from hundreds of thousands of Walmart products just by speaking, the companies explain.
Related to this, Express is also today ditching its membership fees, and now promises free delivery across its retailers in one to three days, as long as customer orders are above each store’s minimums.
This is a significant change for Express, which before charged customers $10 per month or $95 per year for a membership. The delivery service currently provides access to a number of big-name retailers, including Target, Costco, Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, PetSmart, Staples, Toys R Us, Walgreens, and many others across a variety of verticals like apparel, home goods, hardware, health and personal care, sporting goods, and beauty.
Google believes its fees were limiting adoption and were particularly cumbersome when it came to enabling voice shopping.
“The membership was getting in the way in terms of the amount of friction in the experience,” Brian Elliott, GM at Google Express, tells TechCrunch. “If you’re on a mobile device, it’s easy enough to explain you can either pay $4.99 to get this stuff delivered, or you can buy a membership.”
“Even then, you’re putting some degree of friction in front of the user,” he admits. “And it gets really hard to figure out how you’re going to tell somebody in a voice-based experience the difference between a membership and a non-membership,” Elliott says.
The company declines to say how many people have shopped using Express, or how many sales have run through the platform.