We’re always looking for new ways to make it easier to shop on the go or at home - and now we’ve introduced voice-activated shopping through Google Assistant. Our Chief Digital and Technical Officer Phil Tenney and Simon Gregg, our Vice President of Online Grocery Home Shopping, write about this latest innovation in online shopping.


Simon writes:

“OK Google, ask Asda to add bananas to my basket”.

That’s how easy it is to update your online Asda order with our new voice shopping service! We’ve teamed up with Google to connect our online groceries service to the millions of Google Assistant-enabled smartphones, Google Home devices, Chromebook and Android TVs our customers use every day.

The voice commands are simple to use. As long as you’ve got an Asda Online Groceries account all you need to do is download the Google Assistant app onto your phone – it works on both Android or Apple – and follow the simple instructions on the home page of our website.

Once the customer account has been linked to Google assistant it can be activated by a simple command ‘Hey Google, talk to Asda’. You are then able to interact in a conversation.

You can search for products, add products, find out what time your delivery will arrive, check prices, search for special offers and a whole lot more.

The service has been designed to learn from your previous online orders, so you don’t need to be really precise with the voice commands you use.

It’s really intuitive and presents results based on the sorts of things you usually buy. So if I normally buy fun-sized bananas for the kids’ lunchboxes, saying ‘Hey Google, ask Asda to add bananas to my basket’ will trigger queries to see what sort of bananas I normally buy and it will ask if this is what you want to add to your basket.

The real impact of this is its simplicity and immediacy. So rather than needing to compile a shopping list or writes notes of the things I want to buy, when I take the last tin of beans out of a cupboard now I can talk to my phone and add them to my next order there and then.

Phil writes:

It’s part of the continuing digital revolution which is transforming the way we shop. We’re always looking for ways that technology can make shopping with Asda easier and more convenient – and voice is another stage in the digital journey. In the space of 20 years we’ve gone from having to unplug a phone line to connect a computer to the internet to a world where we’ve got fast broadband, wifi, laptops, tablets, and smartphones which are really mini supercomputers in our hands.

With each of these evolutions it’s become easier to interact with technology, we’ve gone from clicking with a mouse to tapping on a phone screen – over half our online transactions are now done on a smartphone – so moving to voice commands is the next natural progression. As context, analysts are predicting that within the next three years half of all internet searches will be made by voice commands and that around a third of searches will be made on devices without a screen.

We want to give customers as many ways as we can to make their shopping experience as easy and intuitive as possible. Voice technology is maturing and becoming much more reliable, and the advent of devices like Google Home means people are getting more comfortable using their voice to interact with the internet, so this is the right time for us to start offering it.

Today, people don't just stick to one way of shopping - we see more and more customers switching between physical stores, online delivery, and services like Click & Collect.

Customers value their time more than ever and voice-activated shopping is another way that might help.

There can be huge benefits for the visually impaired and for anyone who lives a busy lifestyle and wants to multitask rather than devote a chunk of time solely to shopping.

We're still very early in the journey of voice shopping, but it's a really exciting time and it's been great to see the reaction from customers as they see how good the voice technology is becoming, both at recognising their commands and giving them what they’re looking for.

Once you start using it and think ‘wow, it does understand me’ and what it brings back is useful then that builds trust, inspires confidence and, if it’s making your shopping experience easier, you’ll want to keep using it.

The question we ask ourselves is, ‘What are we here to do?’ The answer is to make our customers' shopping experience quicker, easier, and more convenient and with voice control we’re making a big stride forwards in delivering that.

Voice shopping: To shop with Asda using voice commands you’ll need one of the following devices: iPhone or iPad with iOS10.0+, Android phone, Chromebook or TV with Android 6.0+, Google Home or Google Home Mini. You’ll need to download Google Assistant and have an Asda Online Groceries account. To register, go to https://groceries.asda.com.