Google, Walmart partner up to take on Amazon


Google and Walmart announced a partnership on Wednesday that will make items from the big-box retailer available through the search engine's Google Express shopping service. Shoppers will be able to choose from hundreds of thousands of Walmart products.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the Walmart-Google deal is the fact that it will give Walmart a foothold in the nascent market for voice-based shopping thanks to the fact that Google Express is integrated with Google's voice-controlled speaker, Google Home. Google Express already offers products from a variety of stores, such as Target Corporation (TGT - Free Report).

The General Manager of Google Express, Brian Elliott spoke to CNBC regarding the product and pointed out that the entire project might not be as smooth as one might expect. Categories will include clothing, non-perishable groceries, and household staples.

It will quickly locate the brand, size and amount of a household good that the customer previously bought, or make suggestions based on those past purchases.

Starting in late September, the retail giant will be working with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items for voice shopping via Google Assistant - the largest number of items now offered by a retailer through the platform.

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Marc Lore, president and chief executive of Walmart's United States eCommerce division, said the "exciting partnership" would help it make shopping "faster and easier" for customers.

Walmart and Amazon have gone head-to-head for customers in a battle that has pitted the biggest bricks-and-mortar retailer against the largest online one. In midday trading, shares of Google parent Alphabet rose 0.5% to $929.10 and Walmart Stores advanced 0.2% to $80.15. This system, launched in July 2016, marked another step toward accelerating the company's online business and making shopping easier and faster. But the service has hit several speed bumps, including an unsuccessful move into selling perishables, and turnover by the executives overseeing it. The company also has a dedicated back-to-school destination on which enables customers to shop school supply lists for more than 1 million classrooms across the country.

Also on Wednesday, Google announced that it was getting rid of a $95 annual membership fee for Express and would offer free delivery on orders above a certain amount. Walmart was up 0.47 percent while Google was down 0.47 percent.

Google Express has been instructive for Google, says Baird analyst Colin Sebastian, though he doubts it's having much of an impact on Amazon. Google, which introduced shopping to its Home speaker in February, is a distant second, though it is expected to gradually increase its share.

This represents Walmart's latest foray into the e-commerce space.