In the age of Alexa, grocery delivery company Instacart just announced its decision to acquire startup Unata, which provides digital storefronts to brick-and-mortar grocers trying to keep up in an increasingly online world. The startup is also developing voice-activated software for e-commerce, signaling where Instacart’s battle with Amazon — post-Whole Foods acquisition — may be headed.
While shopping isn’t yet the primary use of Amazon’s voice operating system Alexa, L2 predicts that voice-based commerce will become a significant sales channel in the future, particularly in categories that require frequent product replenishment such as CPG and Household Cleaning. According to L2’s voice report, 25% of Echo owners have asked Alexa to add an item to their Amazon shopping list, and 20% have asked Alexa to make a purchase on their behalf.
Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods created a hurdle for Instacart, which had close ties with the grocer as its online delivery partner. After the acquisition, Instacart’s CEO stated that the e-commerce behemoth had “just declared war on every supermarket and corner store in America.” With Unata on board, Instacart has the potential to contend with Amazon in the voice shopping arena.