Target Expands Google Express Offer Nationwide to Counter Amazon

Vjeran Pavic  The Verge

Vjeran Pavic The Verge

Target's online sales rose 32 percent last quarter, well behind the 60 percent jump seen by Wal-Mart, which joined Google's online mall last month. Next year, Target shoppers will be able to pick up their online purchases at a Target store where orders are ready in two hours as part of the Google Express program. For example, after the new year, Target customers will also be able to use their Target loyalty membership through REDcard to get 5 percent off most Target purchases and free shipping when using Google Express.

Announced this morning, all of Target is now shop-able via the Google Express application for all USA residents, with exception to Hawaii and Alaska. Currently, Google Home and Assistant on Android TV are the only places where you can place orders, but "soon", it will go live on Android and iOS devices with the Assistant. Soon, it will launch on iPhones and Android phones, so customers can order items, using voice, while mobile.

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Other retailers on the Google Express platform include Wal-Mart, Costco, Kohl's and Ulta, according to Google's website. Shoppers who want to reorder their favorites have to link their Walmart account to Google Express. The two companies are also partnering up to build up their relationship going forward, with more Target services coming to Google Express starting next year. These companies all likely see a major threat in Amazon, which now soaks up 40 cents of every dollar spent online in the U.S. and has become the default search engine for product searches for most Americans, according to researchers.

Like many retailers, Target has been offering more shopping options.

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"Next year, we will also leverage our 4,700 USA stores and our fulfillment network to create customer experiences that don't now exist within voice shopping anywhere else", Marc Lore, head of Wal-Mart's USA e-commerce business, said in a blog post. But it has plans to grow in other areas with voice-enabled shopping, like apparel, home and beauty, the company said. But Target is aiming to ideal the response to shoppers telling the Google Assistant, "Google, find me a red dress".

While Amazon's Alexa has assumed an early position as a leading voice-activated assistant, Google has stepped up its push into the space as its aligns its services to brick-and-mortar brands such as Panera Bread, which became one of the first national restaurant chains to begin offering voice-activated ordering and payment through Google Assistant.

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