Every week, Ken Whittaker, Director of Engineering, and Neal Cook, Director of Support at Front Rush, review recent tech news, offering analysis and banter about changes in tech.
Ken: Hey Neal, welcome back!
Neal: Hey Ken, it’s nice to be back in action! I managed to go 10 days without a phone and it was wonderful.
Ken: Wow, good for you! Well, it’s time to get plugged back in and catch up on these stories. So, this week we heard news that Google and Walmart teamed up in an attempt to take on Amazon. Whether it’s a fair matchup or not, we’ll have to see – but yes, once more Amazon has made headlines this summer as the company continues to stand their ground.
What does this mean? Well, Google has an online store called Google Express where retailers can sell stuff through Google’s marketplace. Basically, Walmart has reached an agreement to load it’s online store into Google Express so users can utilize Google services – specifically voice services through the Google Assistant or Google Home – to order things much the same way Amazon customers can order items through Alexa.
Neal: No surprise here. Both Google and Walmart are trying anything they can to catch up to Amazon, as the internet retailer continues to dominate online shopping. While Walmart does have an extensive inventory that will benefit Google Express shoppers, does it really matter?
What Google should be thinking is: What differentiates us from Amazon? Consumers know and trust Amazon. I don’t know about you, but this is the first time I’ve heard of Google Express. They need to do a better job of stealing Amazon’s shoppers. Agreeing to a partnership with Walmart is good for short-term PR, but they have a lot ahead of them if they really want to make strides in e-commerce.
Ken: I think the focus here is definitely on voice, and making the Google Assistant / Google Home more powerful. From a logistics standpoint, this makes sense. Walmart has it’s own warehouses and distribution, and Google offers an additional platform for those goods to be sold on. If a user remembers they need something, they can just talk to their phone or Google Home and order it. The other benefit is, there won’t be any required membership to do so. As long as your order meets some minimum requirements, you’ll be all set. Yes, Amazon is the leader in this space right now – but competition is good and I think we’ll start to see more intelligent Alexa capabilities while simultaneously watching this Walmart/Google partnership materialize.
Neal: Great time for some competition, especially since Amazon announced this past week that they would be slashing the costs of many of the items at Whole Foods. There’s a running joke that Whole Foods is where you go to spend your “whole check”. If you’ve followed what Jeff Bezos has done with Amazon in the past, this comes at no surprise, as they constantly slash prices on certain items, like books, to gain market share.
So what changes will consumers see besides lower costs? Well, Whole Foods will start to sell some of their private label products through Amazon, and Amazon will install some of their Amazon lockers in certain Whole Foods. Those that pay yearly for Amazon Prime will also get special benefits and lower prices versus those who do not shell out the extra $99 a year for Prime.
Ken: Again, no surprise here. It’s a smart decision – and I’m sure it will transform into much more as the acquisition takes place. I wonder if there will be any movement on that smart grocery store our colleague Julie Weiss blogged about a few months ago!
Neal: As a fan of fresh produce and lower prices, I’m buying into this. I can’t wait to look back ten years from now and see how far these companies have progressed
Thanks for letting me reclaim my spot this week, Ken! See you next time!
Ken: Of course! See you!