When you think of a digital assistant that’s ready to help you with all your shopping needs, Amazon Echo is probably the first device that springs to mind.
But there’s another smart home aide in town, and it’s also ready to get some items shipped straight to your door. Google Home is branching out beyond just serving as a smart, all-knowing orb. This device is already useful for delivering answers about who is winning the day’s sports games or serving the latest headlines.
There’s still some time to go before the two systems reach parity, as Google’s shopping platform (named “Google Express”) doesn’t have nearly the reach and logistical perfection as Amazon’s ecosystem. However, if you are already living in a Google-centric ecosystem or like being at the cutting edge of new tech, you may want to give Google Home a try. These steps will help you make sure that you get the most out of your experience.
First, if you want to shop with your Google Home, you need to ensure that your Personal Results setting is on. To do this, go to Menu > More Settings > Adjust Settings for this Google Home Device > Personal Results and ensure that the slider under Personal Results is slid to the right.
Next, the tragic reality of online shopping: you need to attach a credit card to your Google account so that Google knows where to send the bill.
Touch the slide-out settings panel, and scroll down to Payments. Touch here to enter your credit card information and delivery address.
The credit card number you enter is the card that Google Home will automatically bill. Don’t worry, there are still several prompts to get through before you part with your hard-earned money.
Additionally, be sure to verify that your delivery address is correct. You can always return to this section in the app at a later date if you wish to change your credit card or address.
Make a List
As any experienced shopper knows, inspiration can strike at any time. This can be frustrating when you’re out and about, away from that handy Google Home.
Thankfully, Google Home also offers a shopping list feature, where you can keep track of the items that you’re considering purchasing. This lets you carefully consider your options or wait for a sale without losing the item to the depths of the internet. This feature is very important, so take a few minutes to learn where your shopping list is and how you can add items to it.
To access your shopping list at any time, open the Google Home app, touch the slide-out menu, and then select shopping list. You can type items here to add them to the list.
It’s even easier to just ask the Google Assistant for help — at any time a simple command (such as “OK Google, add tissues to my shopping list”) will easily add the product to your list.
You’ll also notice there’s a spot at the bottom of the list that invites you to get shopping. Touch the “shop your list” button to be taken to a page that lists prices for items that can be found on Google Express.
If you’ve compiled a lengthy list of items, there’s a good chance you may find them in Google’s storefront using your phone or computer. But as convenient as it is to peruse these items online, the real magic of Google Home is based on what you could do with your voice.
Time to Buy
Google Express partners with several different retailers, so finding an item is a little more complicated than just buying something through Amazon. Google Express maintains a list of partner stores that you can sort to show only the retailers available in your local area. But with some patience you can easily find a solid slate of options, depending upon what you’re looking to buy.
The best way to get started is by asking the Google Assistant for something innocuous, like paper towels. When I did that, this is the response I received:
Another offer came my way after turning this one down. Google will continue to cycle through deals from different retailers as available. When you hear one you like, reply “Yes” to schedule your order.
Google Home will verbally confirm your purchase, and you will also receive a confirmation email with your purchase details.
At this point in time there is no way to cancel an order from your Google Home. As well, you cannot currently edit an order after placing it. Instead, you must cancel the order and then place a new one with the correct items. To do either of these tasks, you will need to log in to your Google Express account on your mobile device or computer.
The Fine Print
After you place your order, Google Express (the company’s home delivery service) takes over for delivery. Because this system is still under development, be sure to check whether delivery is available in your area before you get too excited about how much shopping you can do from the couch.
With Alexa, you have to be quite specific about the types of items you’re ordering. If you want a certain model of a product, or a particular color, you must be very specific. On the other hand, Google Assistant is quick to walk you through the different models available when given a general statement. That being said, it can take some patience to wait for your preferred item to appear in Google’s list.
As tech executives are fond of saying, it’s certainly early days for shopping on Google Home. The service still feels very rudimentary with the back and forth conversation required. In addition, you can only order one item at a time, so if you want two rolls of paper towel you have to have the conversation twice. And unlike with Amazon, there isn’t yet a dedicated section for items that you want to regularly refill like Amazon’s Dash buttons.
The best way to really test out Google Home’s shopping experience is to add a number of items to your shopping list throughout the day. Then you’ll have a good batch of merchandise to use for exploring what can actually be found with Google Home.
Forgot what you added to your shopping list at 2AM last night? A simple “OK Google, What’s on my shopping list?” will prompt your device to list off everything that’s currently on the list.
Time to Shop?
With Amazon’s long-time dominance in both e-commerce and shopping, Google surely has a tough road ahead. Google may want to become the future of voice-controlled smart home shopping, but there is still some significant progress required before they’ll be able to claim that title.
What do you think of this new way to shop? Have you used either device in your everyday life? We’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments!
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