Target voice shopping on Google Express

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The new Google Home

Matt Weinberger/Business

NEW YORK (AP) — Target is jumping into voice-activated shopping
as it deepens its relationship with Google, offering thousands of
items found in the store except for perishables like fruit and

The move is happening as Google says shopping will be available
later this year through Google Assistant on iPhone and Android
phones, joining its Google Home device and Android TV. So
shoppers can shout out orders to their phone while they’re
running around doing errands or just walking.

Target Corp. joins Walmart and Home Depot among others in
partnering with Google on voice shopping as they seek to compete
against Amazon’s dominance with its Echo devices. Amazon started
offering Echo voice assistants in late 2014, while Google made
its debut with Google Home earlier this year.

Target is also expanding nationwide its Google Express program
that offers faster delivery from a test program in New York City
and California. Shoppers will be able to get deliveries within
two days since the items will be shipped to a nearby Target store
for free provided the purchase meets the $35 order minimum. Next
year, Target shoppers will be able to pick up their online
purchases at a Target store where orders are ready in two hours
as part of the Google Express program. They’ll also be able to
use Target’s loyalty card as an option for Google Express
shoppers, giving them such benefits as a 5 percent discount off
most purchases.

TargetAP/Robert F. Bukaty

Like many retailers, Target has been offering more shopping
options. This past summer, for example, the Minneapolis
discounter began expanding its next-day essentials delivery
service that it was testing to the Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles,
New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, St. Louis, and Washington,
D.C./Baltimore areas.

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“We have lots of different choices of how they buy from us,” said
Mike McNamara, Target’s chief information and digital officer. He
believes that voice shopping will be more prevalent in the next
few years.

More devices are in the hands of shoppers. Even Apple has one
coming out this year. But the key is personalizing the order so
if a consumer shouts out “detergent,” the voice assistant will
know the exact brand that the shopper wants. Target says that it
will give customers the option to link their accounts with Google
Express for more personalized shopping. In fact, Walmart, which
went live with voice shopping last week, is integrating its easy
reorder feature — which has data on both store and online
purchases — into Google Express. Shoppers who want to reorder
their favorites have to link their Walmart account to Google

Amazon doesn’t give sales figures for Echo, but Consumer
Intelligence Research Partners estimated that the Seattle company
has sold more than 10 million Alexa-powered Echo devices in the
U.S. since late 2014. That includes the core Echo, as well as the
less expensive and smaller Echo Dot and the portable Amazon Tap.
According to Forrester Research, 12 percent of shoppers own some
voice device like Echo or Google Home. And 29 percent of them use
the device for some shopping, Forrester says.

To be more competitive with Amazon, Google Express scrapped the
$95-a-year membership in August, allowing shoppers to get free
delivery on orders within one to three days, as long as the
purchase is above each store’s minimum.

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