In its second-largest acquisition, Amazon buys the company for $970 million.
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Another stand-out feature in the Grainger app is voice recognition technology for search, enabling a user to speak the term he’s searching for into his phone. Grainger uses voice technology from Nuance, which it says works across all mobile platforms. “This is about making it easier for our customer when they are on the go,” Cooney says. “Sometimes our customer may have a Grainger catalog or a product in one hand and the phone in the other, plus, it can be difficult typing on a phone compared with on a full site. It’s much faster to do a voice search than type it on a keyboard. We wanted to minimize touches and typing since they have their tools in their hands. We wanted to get the design as close to one-thumb as possible.”
Grainger declines to reveal how much it pays for the voice service. Nuance says a basic version of its automated speech recognition technology is free and more robust offerings cost up to $3,000, a one-time fee.