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Target expands partnership with Google on voice shopping, Google Express

Target expands partnership with Google on voice shopping, Google Express
From TechCrunch - October 12, 2017

Target announced today an expanded partnership with Google that, among other things, will allow consumers to shop Target across the U.S. via Google Express, including by voice. The deal will also see the two companies working together more closely in the future in a number of areas, including the integration of Targets own payment card, REDcard, into Googles shopping platform, support for store pick-ups via voice and more.

The news follows a similar announcement from Walmart in late August, which saw the retailerAmazons biggest rivalpartnering with Google on voice-based shopping. With the Google Home device, Google represents these retailers best shots at finding a way into consumers homes in a market where Amazon Alexa-powered smart speakers now dominate.

But Target believes shopping by voice wont necessarily be tied to an in-home device like the Echo or Google Home.

Who knows if these specialized devices will even exist in a few years time?, says TargetsChief Information and Digital Officer Mike McNamara, somewhat optimistically. Or whether its a piece of software than runs on your TV or on your telephone.

He adds that most people will probably interact with the voice-shopping feature by way of Google Assistant on their smartphonea feature Google is also announcing today.

Already, people can shop by voice using a Google Home smart speaker or Google Assistant Android TV, but in the near future, shopping via Google Assistant will arrive on eligible Android phone and iPhones.

While voice-based shopping may be the buzzier news this morning, the partnership represents an expanded relationship between the two companies overall.

Target had previously been testing Googles home delivery service, Google Express, only in select markets in California and NYC. Today, its making that service nationally available across the continental U.S.

The expectation is that consumers will largely use Google Express to pick up their everyday essentialslike more LaCroix, which happens to be the most-ordered item in San Francisco, or Goody hair bandsthe most-ordered item in L.A.

That means there will be some overlap between Google Express and Targets own quick delivery service, Target Restock. But Target Restock on its own couldnt leverage Googles voice computing platform, so Target is essentially placing its bets on Google.

When it comes to technology and things like natural language processing, Google will lead the way, saysMcNamara. Id love to have all of Googles capability around these deep engineering things, but frankly our world is more about making sure we have the right products in the right stores at the right time.

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