The Google Home. Image via Google.
OK Google, let’s go shopping.
Since launching last fall, Google Home has been the main competitor to Amazon’s Alexa-powered devices. One advantage Amazon has held though, was retail. Now, Google is now moving into that turf.
On Thursday, Google introduced shopping to its voice-powered assistant, allowing users to order everyday basics from Google Express retailers. Users can shop from more than 50 national or local stores, including Google, Whole Foods Market, Walgreens and Target. While some stores will be available for any shopper, others are limited to certain areas.
For now, users can only place one item per order and can only order things between $4 and $100. To order, just say “OK Google, order paper towels” and then Home will offer a suggestion with a price, including tax. Shoppers can hear a second suggestion by saying “no,” or confirm the order.
Google launched its Express shopping service in 2013 and expanded to cover 90 percent of the continental U.S. in 2016. With a membership, shoppers can order from major stores with same-day, next-day and 2-day delivery, much like with Amazon Prime.
The membership costs $95 per year, but Google Home users can use it for free through April 30. Shopping without the membership costs $4.99 per order, per store. To shop on Google Home, users will go to “More settings” in the app and add their information to “Payments.”
This addition could be a blow to Amazon, but, with more than 3,000 skills, Alexa does have a major head start in the world of voice-activated assistants. Google will likely be playing catch-up for a while.