Voice commerce is a technology that provides an alternative to navigation and clicks on a mobile or laptop to order and purchase products online. All the customer needs to buy something online using voice commands is an assistant such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
With the help of voice commerce, buying becomes faster and can be accomplished at any time throughout the day, in seconds.
According to “Adobe Digital Insights 2018” more than 40 percent of consumers own a smart speaker, and that was before Q4 2018 sales. Today, we are still far away from conversational commerce, the primary use for voice commerce is to initiate a search for basic research. According to the same Adobe study, 30 percent of smart speaker owners use them to shop online, but only a small percentage consummate a purchase, even re-order. By 2020, an estimated 50% of search will be made via voice, up from the 20% of Google mobile searches made today. I believe that voice is to the future of retail as walking erect was to human evolution, a critical next step.
Challenging customer experience
Right now, all merchants are showing interest, but of course, not all segments can be immediately addressed by voice commerce: end-users are understandably influenced by price point. You won’t buy a $1,000 laptop, TV… because there are too many products, variables, and attributes to choose from in most categories, but you might buy a pizza for $15. It makes most sense for items of services that the consumer is sure to want to buy. Often that means recurring purchases, specific products or products with a limited choice. For exceptional, one-off purchases, consumers prefer to see and compare products before buying.
I recently asked my Google Assistant for options to buy a 65-inch television. It immediately listed five models and provided the brand name and details about each one. I barely remembered any of the brands, much less any of the information, before it finished. The presentation was fast and one-way. It would have been difficult to go to the next step of specifications, pricing, user reviews, and so forth. This experience would be much better if I had Google a screen for viewing product information.
The goal for a merchant is to remove friction for the end-user. Voice commerce is excellent for this because you just interact naturally with a bot. You don’t need to remember anything.
Opportunity is to go beyond the voice search that returns a single level of detail to a more informative, guided conversation. What is needed is a virtual shopping assistant that can walk a buyer through an entire purchase journey.
Voice commerce is available today and is in its early stages. Virtual assistants that can help us find products online using voice search are already making shopping easier for many consumers. The user experience is absolutely key. This is a new payment method that consumers are not used to, to encourage adoption the experience has to be frictionless as possible.
Experts are becoming increasingly convinced that voice search will make a big impact on e-commerce. This industry should keep in mind voice search technology when building their strategies.