1-800-Flowers is launching a new capability that allows customers to use Google Assistant on iPhone and Android mobile phones to place orders via voice or text, according to a company press release.
The retailer, which did not specify a launch date for the capability, already has an Amazon Alexa skill for voice ordering via Alexa-powered devices and also offers a conversational chatbot on Facebook Messenger for the same purpose.
The Google Assistant feature will join a roster of other technology features from 1-800-Flowers, including an online gift concierge called GWYN (Gifts When You Need), which resulted from a collaboration between IBM Watson and Fluid.
Users of Google Assistant can access a menu of gifting categories for 1-800-Flowers and place orders for delivery nationwide. The service also allows users to choose either same-day delivery or to schedule a gift’s arrival for a future date.
It's a nifty capability, but the announcement actually may mean more to Google than it does to 1-800-Flowers. The fact is that 1-800-Flowers has a tradition, at this point, of aggressively embracing cutting-edge technology, and was pretty early to support conversational commerce via Alexa-based devices and through IBM Watson. Now, the company's just doing that on another platform.
For that reason, the move seems to be an attempt to cover its bases and open itself up to more potential voice orders. Retailers like Starbucks, and of course Amazon, have made a big deal about their support for conversational commerce, but many of them are tied to one particular voice ordering platform. Depending on how ubiquitous voice ordering becomes, we might see other retailers following the lead of 1-800-Flowers and allowing voice ordering across numerous platforms.
"As a company, we continue to embrace and invest in technology that makes it easier for gift-givers to shop with us, wherever, whenever and however they choose," said Amit Shah, the retailer’s chief marketing officer, in a statement. "Voice interaction and artificial intelligence are rapidly transforming the customer experience, and we are thrilled to team up with Google to offer shoppers yet another convenient way to connect with us."
For Google, however, this announcement comes at a time when the Internet giant is trying to increase its significance as a force in retail and shopping, and trying to expand Google Assistant to as many use cases as possible. Walmart recently made a major commitment to offer voice ordering of products through Google Assistant-enabled devices like Google Home and the new Google Home Mini, and Home Depot also recently partnered with Google to allow voice shopping of its products.
Coming on the heels of that news, the 1-800-Flowers announcement shows that Google isn't settling after wooing some big retailers into using Google Assistant. When it comes to the virtual assistant market race, Google is going to need a lot more deals like this to even get within sight of Amazon Alexa's dominance as a conversational commerce platform, but the announcement of several big retailer relationships in a row gives Google some momentum.