Google is bringing new e-commerce features to its voice-based digital Assistant, including support for ordering, payments, delivery and other functions, the internet giant announced at its developer conference in Mountain View, CA, Bloomberg reported.
The Wednesday announcement included a demonstration of these functions, as Google Assistant was asked to order a salad to be delivered from Panera Bread Co. Assistant provided a delivery address upon Panera’s request. Assistant had a conversational exchange with Panera about a drink to accompany the salad, and the meal was then paid for by the Google executive conducting the demonstration via fingerprint-authenticated payment.
Google said the new capabilities also include the ability to have notifications and purchase receipts sent to the Google Assistant related to a transaction.
Google is already doing a lot to support shopping and retailers, and its Google Assistant has been right in the competitive mix as virtual assistants from Amazon, Apple, IBM and others have emerged over the last couple of years to address a variety of different applications.
However, there has been a disconnect between its shopping moves and its frequent enhancements to Google Assistant, and this announcement could bridge that gap rather quickly. This seems like the follow-up move to Google enabling shopping of retail partners on Google Home back in March. One has to wonder what took Google so long to make these new features core to its Assistant. It seems like this could have been unveiled at the same time as that previous announcement.
Google Assistant still has some catching up to do. Amazon Alexa has been leading the way in conversational commerce, and voice-enabled shopping is one thing that Amazon Alexa could do that Google Assistant couldn’t do until now. These new features also bridge a gap in its overall shopping strategy and bring Google closer to what might be described as the Amazon model for e-commerce. This move could give Google’s shopping strategy the boost it has been looking for — literally for years.
This is also just a practical business decision on Google’s part. The company is deploying Google Assistant through Google Home for smart home control and in other ways, but it’s in Google’s best interests to find as many money-making applications for this technology as possible, and allowing Assistant to play a direct role in e-commerce is one of the best ways to do that.