Kroger Finds Its Voice … Ordering

Grocery giant Kroger is adding voice ordering to its online arsenal, interestingly hitching its wagon to the Google Assistant voice app and not to Amazon’s Echo, at six of its associated brands, the company announced in a LinkedIn post.

Cincinnati-based Kroger said voice ordering is being rolled out at Fred Meyer, Fry’s Food and Drug, QFC, King Soopers/City Market and Ralphs Grocery Company, with more coming later this year and into 2019. Customers can access the app through Apple’s iOS, Android and Google Assistant.

Kroger continues to innovate and expand its capabilities. In August it created a trifecta, rolling out same-day delivery in five markets, testing self-driving delivery in Phoenix and investing 5% in UK grocer Ocado to launch automated fulfillment centers here with Ocado’s proprietary technology.

In another front in the escalating grocery wars, Netherlands-based giant Ahold Delhaize is piloting an automated fulfillment center at a Stop & Shop in Connecticut with tech partner Takeoff. Never-idle Walmart, meanwhile, is piloting a robotic system from Alert Innovation for picking grocery orders, housed in a 2,000-square-foot facility attached to a store in Salem, NH.

Google is adding major retailers and grocers to its voice-enabled ecosystem, including deals with Target and Walmart, both in August 2017. In September, Google struck a deal with Argos, the UK’s largest grocer, to integrate voice technology with its online checkout. And just last month it added Best Buy, Nike and Sephora to the Google Shopping Actions partner program, which includes of course voice ordering as well as tie-ins to Google Maps, YouTube and Gmail.

Partnering with Google gives major retailers another weapon against Amazon entering the critical holiday period, with its voice ordering as well as free two-day and same-day delivery options, massive selection and aggressive pricing.

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