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October 13, 2017

Target teams up with Google Assistant for voice-powered shopping

by John_A

Why it matters to you

It’s now easier than ever to order paper towels from Target, thanks to the Google Assistant.

It turns out that the Google Assistant, Google’s artificial intelligence, is good for more than just queuing up podcasts, spitting out weather reports, and pre-heating your Wi-Fi-enabled smart oven. It’s also a personal shopper. On Thursday, October 12, Target announced an expanded partnership with Google that lets U.S.-based Assistant users search, reserve, and buy products from the retailer’s expansive catalog.

Now customers can add Target items to a shopping cart in Google Express, Google’s same-day delivery service, with a voice command. The feature is available nationally, following an expansion to California and New York City markets earlier this year. And it’s tied into Target’s REDcard, a specialty credit card the retailer launched last year.

Here’s how it works: Shouting something like, “OK Google, re-order paper towels from Target” to a Google Home speaker, a supported Android device, or the Google Assistant on Android TV starts a cart in Google Express. From there, you can opt for Google Express’s free delivery option (if their total exceeds $35, or $25 for REDCard holders) or pay a small fee.

Google says that in the coming months, customers be able to specify pickup at a local store (within two hours) with voice and that REDcard customers will get a five percent discount on purchases and free shipping.

But Assistant support is just the start of Target and Google’s collaboration. In the coming months, Target will work with Google to design “digital experience[s]” for voice shoppers based on customers’ purchase histories. It might recommend shirts in your size, for example, or movies in your favorite genre.

“When it comes to technology and things like natural language processing, Google [leads] the way,” Mike McNamara, Target’s chief information and digital officer, told TechCrunch. “I’d love to have all of Google’s capability around these deep engineering things […] Our world is more about making sure we have the right products in the right stores at the right time.”

The Target partnership comes on the heels of new Walmart Assistant integration, which saw Google team up with the retail behemoth for voice-powered shopping on Google Home and Android devices. And it marks an expansion of Google Express, which acts as a delivery middleman between retail chains and customers. Google previously levied $10 a month or $95 a year on Express deliveries but eliminated membership fees earlier this year.

It signals, too, Target’s digital commerce ambitions. In August, the brick-and-mortar retailer acquired a software company that manages local and same-day deliveries and recently started offering curbside pickup of delivers in some cities.




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