Siri Can Now Order Groceries from Walmart

Walmart announced this week that customers can order groceries through the Apple Siri voice assistant. The new Siri Shortcut pairs a Walmart and Siri account and lets users arrange for delivery or store pick-up of their items whenever they choose.

Walmart Voice Beyond Google

iPhone or other Siri-powered device owners can simply ask the voice assistant to “add to Walmart” whatever they are interested in purchasing as long as the accounts are paired. Once the order is complete, the purchase is made through a saved credit card and Walmart goes about collecting the items. Pairing the Siri and Walmart accounts also has the benefit of bringing machine learning to bear on orders. The purchase history of each customer will be used to determine what variety of groceries people mean when they use a generic term.

“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,” the company explained in their announcement.” Instead of saying “Great Value organic orange juice with no pulp,” they’ll simply say: “orange juice” and we’ll add the right one.”

The Siri Shortcut essentially the same as the feature the company launched in April for Google Assistant. Previously, people could use Google Assistant to order items at Walmart via Google Express before Walmart withdrew from Google Express at the beginning of 2019. The new Google Assistant setup debuted at the same time as Walmart Voice Order, which adds a voice ordering option when using Walmart’s website to make purchases.

People Like Voice Shopping for Groceries

There’s growing research that people would prefer to buy lower-cost items like groceries by voice compared to big-ticket items like plane tickets. Voicebot surveys and research from other firms have all garnered similar results. Some grocery outlets like Walmart are trying different kinds of partnerships with voice assistant developers, with greater or lesser degrees of integration. Amazon, meanwhile, is folding its Whole Foods subsidiary into a shopping option through the Alexa voice assistant.

For big companies like Walmart, the question is how to reach people who would buy groceries from them using voice without giving up control over data and process to voice assistant developers. Walmart switched its partnership with Google to regain that control over data. The partnership with Apple will also let them keep a hand on the tiller while still allowing Apple to apply its algorithms to past purchase data. As more people try buying things through their voice assistants, these early ideas could set the templates for how everyone orders groceries.


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