Retale Attempts To Bridge Voice Assistant Grocer Gap Between Google And Amazon

With its shopping list app Out of Milk’s new voice capability, Retale is vying to become the leader in voice-enabled shopping, coupons and deals, and store information, says Managing Director Nels Stromborg.

Following Retale’s acquisition of shopping list app Out of Milk last February was initially part of its plan to expand its coupon offers to a platform that has attracted 10 million downloads since its launch in 2011.

But as the Chicago location-based shopping app platform has expanded its use of voice activation and Connected intelligence capabilities, Out of Milk could prove even more useful.

With the addition of the Out of Milk voice assistant, which is now available through Amazon Echo, which is powered by Alexa, and Google Home/Google Assistant/Okay Google.

Out of Milk users can now “instantly and easily” build and manage entire shopping lists just by speaking.

By speaking with the Out of Milk voice assistant via their Amazon Echo or Google Assistant enabled devices, users can create and manage shopping lists that sync directly with their Out of Milk app or website.

Voice assistant users must have an account created through the Out of Milk mobile or web platform, but once the accounts are linked, any changes are automatically synced across devices.

As grocers feel the pressure coming in the wake of Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods, Retale is offering a potential omnichannel lifeline that could help them competitive, says Retale Managing Director Nels Stromborg, who will be speaking at an early afternoon panel at the Local Search Association’s Place Conference. (GeoMarketing will have full coverage later in the day and follow-ups throughout the week.)

GeoMarketing: What do retailers who want to use shopping lists and voice-activated assistants like Alexa and Okay Google need to attract store visits?

Nels Stromborg: Retailers need to do more than offer a pick-up option to activate voice for in-store use. Instead, retailers need to focus on integrating voice into other marketing channels, delivering compelling content – such as creative in-app content, exclusive “voice-only” deals, and more – making it possible for better cross-pollination and in-store lift. Retailers can also become more innovative with their content offerings as well by encouraging voicebot users to experiment with content that is more native to voice such as through product reviews and assembly instructions.

How can retailers deal with the issue of app engagement when it comes to using voice-activated assistants, which tend to present much more narrow choices to users when compared to search pages or mobile app notifications?

Retailers also need to build a suite of interactive content capabilities for each platform to make voice-based consumer engagement truly “sticky” – this means shopping lists, store hours, product availability, and more.

This is a critical first step to enabling connections between voice/online and in-store trips/behavior. Voice in retail needs to be effective at the top-of-the-funnel – when customers are doing initial trip planning and research – all the way down to the actual store visit.

Does voice activation suggest that websites and apps will be less important as people get used to speaking their orders, as opposed to typing or clicking? 

Long-term, it’s possible, as voice usage has exploded in recent years as voice searches, for example, already make up 20 percent of all mobile queries according to Google. But it’s still early days for voice campaigns and mobile apps/sites – in particular – are the biggest point of entry for retail purchases right now.

In the immediate-term, marketers need to develop more synergy between voice platforms and desktop and mobile campaigns. Consumers are increasingly cross-channel so more connectivity across all of these devices is the key. From there, the strategies can evolve based on user preferences and platform usage patterns.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.