Google is digging even further into the retail category with plans to launch a multidevice digital shopping cart, along with further integration of local inventory into its growing assembly of consumer-driven technology.
As part of an expansion for Google Home, a voice-controlled device capable of answering questions and taking orders, among other assistant-like duties, Google will be launching a shopping cart that connects across multiple devices and allows a user to drop in products for purchase across the web and check out in a single transaction.
While Google is mum on the exact date the cart will be available to online shoppers, it will drop “soon,” according to Jonathan Alferness, vice president of Google Shopping.
“Some of us have already been testing it here [at Google] and it’s really a great way to build a shopping cart up and get what you need during the week and then all you have to say is ‘OK Google, purchase my cart,” Alferness added.
As for the shipping process, the retailers holding the goods will continue to be the merchant of record and the shipper, but Google intends to “try and streamline the process” as much as possible so it’s easy, fast and convenient.
“It’s still early days, but if a consumer purchases 10 products and ends up with 10 separate packages, obviously we’ve failed,” Alferness said.
As for the integration of Google Home and local inventory of dozens of retailers, which is intended to allow a consumer to search for anything from a loafer to cold medicine and find which retailers have it in stock in real-time, Alferness said this is geared toward not only sales, but driving traffic into physical stores.
Retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue, Sephora, Bed Bath & Beyond and Home Depot, among many others, are already signed on to send Google their local inventory feeds.
While Google Home and these extensions have gone through “a ton” of consumer research and studies, as well as internal and some external testing, Alferness admitted that the technology represents a “brave new world” in shopping, but that the company has been “very impressed with user data so far.”
Alferness noted that one of the biggest surprises to him throughout the early stages of Google Home was how “engaged users are with the device” and said even his 70-plus-year-old parents took to the technology and its shopping capabilities after only a “little help.”
While it’s clear that Google will be able to drive more advertising revenue through these tech expansions, which Alferness said is a “very healthy business” for Google, he added that working to organize such a large sector of the economy is well-aligned with the company’s overarching mission.
“It may seem crazy, but it’s the way we’ve always approached any problem — we want to organize the world’s information and retail products are a huge part of what a consumer needs, day in and day out,” Alferness said. “If you build the right products for consumers, all else will follow.”
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