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Walmart teams with Google on voice-activated shopping

BY Marianne Wilson
BENTONVILLE, Ark. and MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Walmart is determined not to cede any ground to Amazon.
 
In a partnership that takes direct aim at the online giant and its Alexa voice-controlled device, Walmart is teaming up with Google to offer hundreds of thousands of items available for voice shopping via Google Assistant, the search giant's online shopping platform that lives on its smart speaker Google Home and other smart devices. It will be the largest number of items currently offered by a retailer through the platform, according to Walmart. 
 
The service is another bulwark in the defenses Walmart is building up against its biggest rival. It will be available in late September.
 
The deal with Walmart is Google's largest retail partnership to date. While other retailers, including Target, Kohl's and Ulta, sell on Google Express, no other company currently offers the depth of products Walmart will be offering. In related news, Google Express said it will now offer free delivery across its retailers as long as the order is above each store’s minimum threshold.
 
"When it comes to voice shopping, we want to make it as easy as possible for our customers," said Marc Lore, president and CEO, Walmart U.S. eCommerce. "That’s why it makes sense for us to team up with Google. They’ve made significant investments in natural language processing and artificial intelligence to deliver a powerful voice shopping experience. We know this means being compared side-by-side with other retailers, and we think that’s the way it should be. An open and transparent shopping universe is good for customers."
 
In another key distinction from the other retailers that sell via Google Express, Walmart will allow shoppers to link up a pre-existing user account with Google Express on the back-end. The discounter will integrating its Easy Reorder feature, which has data on customers' store and online purchases, into Google Express. Shoppers who want to reorder their favorites can link their Walmart account to Google Express.
 
"This will enable us to deliver highly personalized shopping recommendations based on customers’ previous purchases, including those made in Walmart stores and on Walmart.com," Lore said.
 
Lore said that Walmart will roll out increased voice shopping capabilities in 2018. 
 
"Next year, we will also leverage our 4,700 U.S. stores and our fulfillment network to create customer experiences that don’t currently exist within voice shopping anywhere else, including choosing to pick up an order in store (often for a discount) or using voice shopping to purchase fresh groceries across the country," he said.
 
Gordon Haskett analyst Chuck Grom on Wednesday said he was pleased with what he called another ”forward-thinking strategic decision from the team in Bentonville.”
 
“The move is an intelligent and natural joint venture for both Walmart and Google, in our opinion, given that Amazon’s Alexa was more/less closed off to other retailers,” Grom said. ”From Wal-Mart’s vantage point, the relationship appears to be a ‘win/win’ and builds upon many of its recent digital ecosystem initiatives, including: (1) digital native acquisitions … (2) online grocery/in-store pick-up (900 stores in 2Q up from 400 a year ago) [and] (3) third-party marketplaces (67 [million] total SKU’s today).”
 
To see a blog post from Google on its new partnership with Walmart, click here

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HRG’s Dave Wendland invited to join Forbes Agency Council

BY DSN STAFF

WAUKESHA, Wis. — The Forbes Agency Council has added Dave Wendland, VP of strategic relations and member of the owners group for Hamacher Resource Group, into its ranks.

“It’s a privilege to be invited to join the Forbes Agency Council and I’m thrilled that HRG’s deep and broad retail supply chain expertise will reach a wider audience. I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences and insights, as well as being able to tap into the knowledge of my fellow council peers,” said Wendland.

Wendland joins other Forbes Agency Council members who are hand-selected to become part of a curated network of successful peers and get access to a variety of exclusive benefits and resources, including the opportunity to submit thought leadership articles and short tips on industry-related topics for publishing on Forbes.com. Members also get access to the people, benefits, and expertise they need to grow their businesses.

“We are honored to welcome Dave into the community. Our mission with Forbes Councils is to curate successful professionals from every industry, creating a vetted, social capital-driven network that helps every member make an even greater impact on the business world,” added Scott Gerber, founder of Forbes Councils.

 

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Winners of NACDS TSE Product Showcase announced

BY DSN STAFF

SAN DIEGO — The National Association of Chain Drug Stores today announced the winners of the Product Showcase at the 2017 NACDS Total Store Expo.

Products ranging from baby care to home health care were on display in the Product Showcase in the Exhibit Hall. The Product Showcase provides increased visibility for exhibiting suppliers to market their products to retailers. Evaluated by the retail attendees, winners of this year’s Product Showcase are:

  • For baby care, Oilogic, in Booth 4840, for its Oilogic Soothing Baby Collection
  • For consumables, E.&J. Gallo Winery, in Booth 1339, for its Prophecy and Chateau Souverain premium wines
  • For cosmetics and fragrances, Beauty 21, L.A. Colors, L.A. Girl, in Booth 4839, for its L.A. Colors color-last nail polish
  • For front-end services, ScriptSave for its ScriptSave WellRx Personalized Wellness, in Booth 4809
  • For general merchandise, American Greetings, in Booth 1629, for its Chairs to You greeting cards 
  • For health care and OTC, Beurer North America, in Booth 3909, for its SL 70 Snore Stopper 
  • For home health care, Dr-Ho's, in Booth 3739, for its foot and leg pain therapy system
  • For household products and non-edible consumables, Innovators of Products & Services, in Booth 2328, for its Just'A Drop and Just'A Spray 
  • For personal care and health and beauty care, Bulldog Skincare, in Booth 4345, for its Bulldog Original Beard Oil 
  • For pharmacy operations equipment and services, Safe Rx, in Booth 1501, for its Safe Rx Locking Prescription Vials
  • For photo, DNP Imagingcomm America, in Booth 1648, for its IDW500 ID and passport photo solution  

 

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