ObjectWave CEO Sam Cinquegrani was quoted in this Crain’s New York article on Walmart’s partnership with Google Express to expand Walmart’s e-commerce initiatives and better compete with Amazon.

Article by Matthew Flamm Published in Crain’s New York Business

Walmart teams up with Google to battle Amazon

In a direct response to the growing popularity of Amazon’s Echo, Walmart announced Wednesday that it will soon be working with Google Assistant to allow customers place orders through the smart device and have them delivered by Google Express. The partnership will help Walmart leverage its vast brick-and-mortar empire in its battle with Amazon for the future of commerce. The Arkansas-based retail giant is focused on finding ways to make its nearly 5,000 retail outlets double as distribution points for online sales.

The deal is also the latest move by Hoboken-based Marc Lore, Walmart.com’s new chief, to reengineer its ecommerce business. Lore took over the division after the retailer bought his startup Jet.com a year ago for $3 billion. Since then he has overseen a string of acquisitions—including of New York based men’s clothing retailer Bonobos—aimed at introducing Walmart to new demographics of online shoppers. Next year, Lore wrote in a blog post on Wednesday, the partnership will allow Walmart to make use of its “4,700 U.S. stores and our fulfillment network to create customer experiences that don’t currently exist within voice shopping anywhere.”

Analysts see the deal as being more about the future of the business, than about what voice shopping can do for Walmart right now. “In some ways Walmart has a competitive advantage over Amazon,” said Sam Cinquegrani CEO of ObjectWave, a digital marketing services company, of the retailer’s brick-and-mortar footprint. “If they’re able to leverage that in ways that consumers accept, you’ve got the beginnings of a new capability we haven’t experienced.”

Others remain skeptical that the largest U.S. retailer can ever be a formidable rival to Amazon, or that Lore’s moves will help. “I don’t know that this is meaningful in any way,” said Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia Business School, of the partnership with Google. He pointed out that while Walmart might shift some physical store shoppers to its online outlet, a large contingent of the store’s traditional customers still pay in cash and don’t use a credit card. “That any of these moves will enable [Walmart] to ‘catch’ Amazon is, in my opinion, never going to happen,” Cohen said.

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