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Updated: May 11, 2019

Credit from Alizah Asif Farooqi

While digital advances are critical for progressive grocers, the vast majority of grocery sales still occur in stores. Here’s how two brands are using voice technology to tackle one of the most vital aspects of their industry: the shopping list.

Customers are still not using voice technology when grocery shopping, but that may change in the future, especially for those buying replenishable products. Younger consumers are particularly open to trying voice, with 9% of Gen Zers stating that it is actually their preferred means of getting groceries (with the important caveat that many in Gen Z are not yet regular shoppers).

But while leading grocers are experimenting with Google Actions for building lists, many fall short of customizability. The options a customer has on Kroger’s Google Actions consists only of hearing what the cart contains and adding and removing products. Additionally, product search is not sophisticated—when users search for sugar, they are only offered the first product that appears on Kroger’s site search, severely limiting the product choices available.

Walmart, on the other hand, presents a more well-stocked set of options, according to Gartner L2’s recent report on the topic. The retailer recently partnered with Google Assistant to introduce Walmart Voice Order. When a user says, “add milk to my cart,” he or she is presented with the “best match” product and brand based on previous purchase habits. The user is then prompted to add the item to his or her cart. If not, Walmart will suggest more items. By leveraging user interaction data to both provide customers with options and train its own tools, Walmart is ultimately providing value on both ends.

This feedback mechanism serves to create a more robust reordering process by making weekly pantry selections easier. A fully built-out voice ordering feature will push consumers in the direction of comfort and build engagement along these platforms. Voice activation shopping might seem like nothing more than a happy dream for consumers at this point. But If grocery brands want to turn the voice technology dream into a fruitful reality, presenting the full picture is pivotal.

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