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Walmart in new partnership with Apple

Walmart is doubling down on voice-activated grocery shopping.

The discount giant is partnering with Apple to make its voice order grocery shopping service available on Siri. Via a new Siri shortcut for online grocery, customers can ask Siri to start adding items directly to their Walmart online grocery cart after they’ve paired their accounts. The service works on iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, HomePod, and CarPlay devices.

Customers build out their basket by just saying “add to Walmart,” and then naming the product they want to add to their cart. After that, customers can place their order and Walmart personal shoppers obtain the items for the customer, who can pick the order up at the store or have it delivered to their home. To get started, customers can go to the Walmart grocery app and click “Voice Shopping” within their account page.

The service will also leverage Siri’s machine learning capabilities.

“The more customers use it, the better the experience will be,” stated a blog post credited to Walmart U.S. executives Tom Ward, senior VP, digital operations; Ashley Hubka, senior VP, corporate strategy and development; and Janey Whiteside, chief customer officer. “Customers can trust that we can quickly and accurately identify the items they are asking for, thanks to information from their purchase history with us. For example, if a customer says, ‘add orange juice to my cart,’ we’ll make sure to add the specific orange juice the customer buys regularly.”

Walmart initially rolled out voice-enabled grocery shopping in partnership with the Google Assistant voice device in April 2019. The retailer says it will continue “working with the best companies in the world to bring to life experiences that make shopping even easier for our customers.”

Walmart is expanding its voice-activated grocery shopping reach as the company’s chief rival Amazon keeps making inroads in both the grocery and voice technology spaces. Most recently, Amazon confirmed reports it will launch a new brick-and-mortar grocery format in Los Angeles in 2020.

In September 2019, Amazon announced several new technology devices that could expand the use of its Alexa voice assistant as a shopping tool. These include Echo Buds, wireless earbuds equipped with Amazon Echo smart speaker technology and Bose Active Noise Reduction technology to minimize background sounds which Amazon is promoting as a mobile voice shopping device.

Amazon is also releasing Echo Frames – 31-gram, Alexa-enabled glasses that look like regular prescription glasses, which provide all-day access to Alexa. Both Echo devices will offer an optimized, voice-enabled Whole Foods shopping experience. In addition, General Motors (GM) will embed Alexa in brand new vehicles and also make it available to millions of existing vehicles. This embedded functionality creates new opportunities for consumers to shop from their car.

“We’re still in the very early days of virtual assistants and voice interfaces,” said Frank Gillett, VP & principal analyst at Forrester. “Unlike past user interfaces like the Mac’s visual GUI or the iPhones touch interface, voice interfaces are complements or new front ends to existing applications in way that makes them dependent on integration with other applications.”

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