Google/Walmart: The Brutal Future Of Retail Supply Chains


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This partnership is more than just a challenge to Amazon and its Alexa voice-ordering system. It signals an acceleration in the shift from store-based retail supply chains to a hyper-personalized, smart consumer supply chain. The dynamics of this new supply chain will be brutal for consumer brands accustomed to shelf-centric demand. Three Predictions 1. Voice ordering explodes — Though voice ordering is already familiar enough to be the subject of funny television commercials and cocktail party small talk, its deployment remains relatively tiny, even for Amazon. Voice queries on Google, however, already account for about 20% of searches on mobile devices. Gartner’s research on emerging technologies highlights a number of intersecting technologies that promise to speed adoption by consumers. Among the most important are machine learning, natural-language question answering and virtual personal assistants (VPAs). The first two of these are already past the “peak of inflated expectations” and just two to five years from wide use. VPAs may have farther to go, but they are being cultivated aggressively by deep-pocketed companies including Google and Amazon, as well as Microsoft, Apple, Baidu and Facebook. Field surveys show that, once adopted, VPA usage quickly permeates personal habits. With Google as the starting point for consumer demand, and Walmart as the fulfillment engine, it seems reasonable to expect an ever faster uptake for voice-based shopping. Virtual Personal Assistant (VPA) Usage on Smartphones GraphGartner

2. Competition breeds even more innovation in e-commerce — When Amazon bought Whole Foods recently some complained of a rising monopoly power. I argued then, and maintain now, that this is nonsense. Competition is alive and well in e-commerce with Walmart not only buying in via its Jet.com acquisition, but also innovating with initiatives such as associate delivery.

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