Internet

Google, Walmart team up to take on Amazon Prime

Plus, Google kills off its $95 yearly Google Express membership fee.

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The Google Home will soon be able to sell stuff from Walmart.

CNET

Google and Walmart each just got a valuable partner in their fight against Amazon: each other.

The companies said Wednesday that Walmart in late September will start selling hundreds of thousands of items on the Google Express app and website, as well as the Google Home through voice shopping.

Additionally, Google Express is killing off its annual $95 membership fee, instead letting customers get free deliveries so long as their orders hit each store's minimum.

The partnership comes at an important time for both companies. Amazon continues to dominate e-commerce, taking up roughly 43 percent of all US online sales, according to Slice Intelligence, thanks in part to its hugely popular Prime membership program. It also made a big play for groceries with its $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods

Walmart, the world's biggest retailer, is threatened by Amazon's direct competition, especially because Walmart is the biggest grocer in the US. Google, meanwhile, is also threatened by Amazon, as Amazon expands its inventory to so many items that it's essentially become a search engine for shopping. On top of that, Amazon is also growing its online ads business, which is Google's bread and butter.

Still, Google Express, which already partnered with Target and Costco, remains an also-ran in e-commerce. Walmart is a distant second to Amazon in the US, but it has been aggressively pushing to expand online by increasing its inventory, speeding up its shipments and buying up Jet.com and a handful of other online sellers.

The new partnership could give customers more options to shop and build up the budding world of voice shopping.

Google's decision to ax its membership fee follows a similar decision by Walmart in January and Jet soon after it launched. They may see no memberships as a useful competitive advantage against Amazon, which gets its members to pay $99 a year for unlimited shipping and other benefits.

Marc Lore, CEO of Walmart's US e-commerce business, said in a blog post Wednesday that his company is just getting started with voice shopping. He said the company is working on new ways to use Walmart's 4,700 US stores for voice shopping experiences, including choosing to pickup in store or ordering fresh groceries.

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