Walmart Expands Voice Ordering to Apple’s Siri

The retailer also works with Google—but not Amazon's Alexa

Hand holding an iPad with Siri on the screen asking what would you like to add to your walmart cart
Walmart shoppers have a new voice assistant at their disposal—but it isn't Alexa. Walmart
Headshot of Lisa Lacy

Walmart has partnered with Apple to add voice-enabled grocery shopping through Siri.

The Siri shortcut for online grocery enables shoppers to ask Apple’s voice assistant to add items directly to their Walmart grocery carts after they’ve paired their accounts, the retailer announced in a blog post.

Shoppers can build virtual baskets by saying “Add to Walmart” and the name of the product. Walmart will use information from customers’ purchase history to identify the specific items they ask for.

“For example, if a customer says, ‘Add orange juice to my cart,’ we’ll make sure to add the specific orange juice the customer buys regularly,” according to the post. “Instead of saying ‘Great Value organic orange juice with no pulp,’ they’ll simply say: ‘orange juice’ and we’ll add the right one.”

The new voice order functionality also allows Walmart customers to add items to their carts over multiple days and through a range of devices, including iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, HomePod or CarPlay.

In April, Walmart debuted similar functionality with Google, allowing customers to say, “Hey Google, talk to Walmart,” to build carts with Google Assistant.

In the blog post, Walmart noted its voice order service “now works across leading voice assistants,” and nearly 80% of U.S. shoppers can order groceries via voice now.

Notably, those “leading voice assistants” do not include Amazon’s Alexa. A Walmart rep did not respond to a question about whether the retailer will ever add Amazon’s voice assistant to its arsenal.

Meanwhile, Amazon has enabled customers to use Alexa to build carts for Whole Foods orders since at least September 2018. The ecommerce giant did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

“We designed the entire experience for voice shopping to help save time in the kitchen, in the car or on the go,” Walmart said in the post. “We know customers are busy, and we’re here to help.”

But keeping pace with Amazon likely has something to do with it, too. Both retailers, for example, also offer their own spins on in-home delivery options. And Walmart’s Siri announcement came the same day Amazon confirmed it has a new grocery store concept coming in 2020.

Evan Mack, senior specialist at research firm Gartner, said Walmart’s Siri partnership potentially expands the impact of voice-enabled grocery order functionality for the retailer through Apple’s network of voice-enabled devices.

In both of its voice partnerships, Mack said Walmart benefits from brands already working to increase household penetration of their devices and, as a result, the number of potential customers closer to converting a Walmart grocery order.

“Walmart is broadening the reach of their grocery operations, making it easier and easier to access order functionality online,” he added. “They are a fast follower on voice technology and, after significant investment in their fulfillment footprint, are looking to capitalize on a last-mile advantage to compete with Amazon by bringing voice ordering closer to customers.”

However, Brendan Witcher, an analyst at research firm Forrester, noted the challenge Walmart faces is getting customers to adopt voice shopping.

“Most consumers, for example, know they can order through Alexa devices today, but very few actually do,” Witcher said. “Grocery shopping is so frequent that the way consumers do it is fairly habitual. For Walmart to find success, they need to proactively find ways to educate and motivate customers to use this way of shopping.”

@lisalacy Lisa Lacy is a senior writer at Adweek, where she focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon.