Google is clearly aware of the incredible growth in e-commerce. To exploit it meticulously, over the years it has undertaken several successful ventures in e-commerce and payments, including Google Shopping, a mobile wallet, and delivery through Google Express. Once again, in order to successfully monetize Google Assistant–their AI voice assistant that made its debut at Google I/O 2016–Google is extending its voice-enabled commerce.
At its developer conference in Mountain View, CA, Google announced that it is bringing commerce features to its voice-based digital Google Assistant. While it’s already enabled conversational commerce for select retail partners, it seems like they’re vastly extending their offerings. Google Assistant can now order, accept payments and complete the delivery as well. Google Assistant’s new e-commerce features also ensure shoppers’ identities, and send notifications and purchase receipts.
This move is viewed as a follow-up move to Google enabling shopping with its retail partners on Google Assistant back in March. Google Home allows customers to order things from Walgreen’s, Costco, or Toys R Us through Google Express. Customers just have to say commands and set up a payment option by going into the Google Home app settings. It looks something like this-
Clearly, Google could have announced these new e-commerce features with the announcement of Google Home. But the intentions behind these efforts, apart from monetization, are clear. One of them is the need to catch up with the rivals. Google Assistant already helps customers in organizing their shopping lists and find out about things in which they are interested in, but it had stopped short at actually letting them buy items. But with Google Home and these new functionalities, Google is trying to overcome that lacuna as quickly as possible. Voice-enabled shopping is one of the prime reasons why Amazon’s Alexa is leading the pack when it comes to conversational commerce. Besides, Amazon has its own payments infrastructure and a grand network of warehouses and delivery services to get products to people who place voice-based orders.
Additionally, Google is going to integrate an inventory search option into Google Assistant, and it’ll be free for marketers. Recode notes, “In traditional Search, marketers pay for an ad feature that similarly shares results for nearby sellers that have in stock the item a user is seeking. The feature that is coming to Assistant pulls from the same data as the ad option already offered in traditional Search.”
“This feature for finding specific items nearby is different from asking Assistant the location of a specific store nearby; for example: “Okay Google, where is the nearest CVS?” That option is already available on Assistant, and businesses are not charged for inclusion.”
Moreover, the announcement also revealed Google’s plans to integrate Google Assistant into a slew of consumer devices. It may work with devices from Sony, Panasonic, and others to control them with the Assistant and even bake it into the device itself. A special “Google Assistant built-in” badge will highlight appliances that include that capability. It is also believed that Google Assistant’s new e-commerce features will be available in French, German, Japanese, and Brazilian Portuguese, as well as Italian, Spanish, and Korean, by the end of the year. Now, these developments will help Google in broadening its new features’ reach to posit itself as a serious player in the online shopping contention.
Clearly, Google Assistant’s new e-commerce features are a strategic branching out of its core functionalities and strengths. And its effect will be felt on improving Google’s competitive edge as well as monetization prospects, as it’s always a big plus for a company if it can find more revenue channels through the existing features. If it can become an integral part of people’s online buying behavior, those effects won’t be too hard to realize!