Voice Commerce: A Huge Opportunity For Restaurants That’s Here To Stay

Alt: voice commerce voix, Source: Google

Watch phone-glued teenagers for a few minutes and you may come to the conclusion that we’re evolving into a voice-less society. The digital world has altered our behaviors dramatically — and we’ve certainly seen a huge jump in online commerce that doesn’t require speaking in the last few years — but our voices aren’t becoming irrelevant.

In fact, the opposite is true.

Voice commerce is simplifying and streamlining the shopping process using voice alone, no screens necessary. Estimates show this commerce medium will make up 30% of all sales by 2022, accounting for $40 billion.

The speech-to-text technology behind Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple Siri have been around for many years now, but it’s just now starting to reveal itself as a commerce medium to be reckoned with — especially when it comes to restaurants.

“Voice control and voice recognition technology will be the new equivalent of typing for input, as typing is becoming a thing of the past.”

— Aurélie Guerrieri, MobPartner

Early adopters of automated voice commerce in the food industry are winning big — and there’s room for more forward-thinking restaurants to join in before the inevitable flood of new users.

And here’s the thing: the restaurant industry tends to be a slower adopter of technology, so the quicker restaurants jump in, the more time they have to make gains before their competitors catch on.

But hold on.

Just a couple of years ago everyone was up in arms about chatbots and how they would change shopping forever, but now nobody really shops with them. How do we know automated voice assistants aren’t also going to fall by the wayside?

Chatbots were a great idea. A customer would simply message a restaurant’s bot and tell it what they want to eat, then the bot would interpret the language, turn it into an order, and respond with relevant information in real-time.

This was supposed to be the future — so what happened?

Why Chatbots Failed?

Chatbots were built on a foundation of “if this, then that” statements.

If a customer uses the word “pizza”, then list the pizza offerings.

But what if a customer asked for something not recognized by the bot, like if there were any vegan pizza options?

Alt: voice commerce

Most bots failed to deliver. Though complex, they couldn’t interpret meaning, and the limitations of the tech became clear very quickly. In fact, as much as 70% of the 100,000 chatbots on Facebook failed to complete basic user requests. And, thus, chatbots fell out of favor.

When you think about it, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

In the world of computers, we moved away from text-based commands for complex processes decades ago. You no longer use a command prompt to launch apps — you use a visual interface like Windows or macOS. The downfall of text-only commerce was already written in our history books.

Granted, voice commerce is threatened by some of the same challenges as chatbots, but as a whole, it’s different. Very different.

3 Reasons Voice Commerce Is Here To Stay

In many ways, voice assistants are the natural evolution of chatbots. They’re computers that use consumer language to facilitate commerce. However, the differences are significant enough to actually change consumer behaviors. Let’s explore them.

  • Commerce has (almost) always been spoken. Buying and selling via spoken word have been the norm since the beginning of civilization. It’s fast, it’s natural, and it’s familiar. It’s no wonder that consumers already know they prefer voice to the web or app-based commerce because it’s more convenient.
  • Machine learning is transforming speech-to-text AI. Voice assistants aren’t running logic trees — AI’s by Google, Apple, and Amazon learn from their interactions with customers without having to be explicitly programmed, which makes every conversation more relevant and accurate than the last.
  • Speaking is hands-off and far more convenient. You can’t use a chatbot or app while driving, but you can tell your car’s voice assistant to order coffee for you on the way to work. And cars are only the beginning of the mountain of hands-off possibilities.
  • Voice assistants are already changing shopping behaviors. The effects of voice commerce are already manifested in real-world habits that are impacting brands (especially restaurants) right now.

Voice commerce is here to stay because it’s natural, hands-off, more intuitive than ever, and already beloved by consumers.

The Voice Commerce Revolution And Its Effect On Restaurants

Voice assistants are big with consumers. In 2017, Pew Research discovered that 46% of Americans already use voice assistants — often to order food — and this number is only expected to grow.

This massive shift in purchasing habits is going to change a lot about how brands interact with customers, with restaurants leading the way.

Domino’s Pizza was one of the earliest adopters of voice commerce, and the brand’s success has inspired many others to give voice ordering a shot. Starbucks, Dennies, and Wingstop, to name a few, are also enjoying the benefits of enabling voice orders.

But is voice commerce just for the giants of the restaurant industry?

According to research from Capgemini Group, the voice revolution will be large enough to be used by restaurants of all types and sizes. Let’s look at some of the findings.

  • 40% of consumers will want to use voice assistants to websites and apps in three years. The growing preference for voice-based interactions with brands is clear. People want a voice.
  • Ordering meals from restaurants is already a big use of voice assistants. 34% of users have ordered a meal via voice, but 56% of users are interested in the idea.
  • Voice assistants result in higher customer satisfaction. Businesses that use voice assistants score 20 points more than ones that don’t in the Net Promoter Score scale.
  • Voice commerce is pervasive across economic levels. 83% of voice assistant users have less than $100,000 household income, revealing that voice commerce isn’t only for the big restaurants and big spenders.
Alt: pizza voice ordering, Source: TechCrunch

The data shows that voice ordering is rising in popularity very quickly, so restaurants that enable customers to order with voice will find themselves surrounded by lots of demand with relatively little competition.

Voice Assistants Mean Big Savings For Restaurants

The rapid growth of voice commerce and availability of voice assistants will soon begin reducing the frequency of phone-based restaurant orders. Since restaurants lose $1,000 to $1,500 on the process of taking phone calls per month, this could add up to big savings in the long run.

Calling by phone is still a popular way to order meals, but the process is about to change. Rather than a staff member picking up every call, restaurants will use a voice assistant to automate the process.

And it’s going to reduce costs dramatically.

Answering the phone requires extra staff, which means more taxes, training, and investment. But that’s not all — hold times, order miscommunication, and other call errors cause restaurants to lose 20% of phone orders.

Because of these costs, the average fast casual restaurant loses $1,000 to $1,500 to the process of taking phone calls.

And automating the process using a voice assistant — that decimates those expenses. Fewer staff are required, you never lose a call (because AI’s can accept multiple calls at once), and smart upselling over the phone tends to result in higher order values.

For restaurants, automated voice assistants are a financial no-brainer.

To extract as much value as possible from voice commerce revolution, start optimizing your restaurant’s online profiles now. One way to do this is to ensure all information about your hours, location, and the menu is correct on platforms like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor. Voice assistants tend to favor restaurants that have complete profiles.

When you’re looking for an AI partner to take voice orders, make sure it’s compatible with all the major voice assistants. You don’t want to alienate any customers that have a Google Home device but not an Amazon Echo.

Additionally, make sure your AI pick actually uses machine learning to evolve to meet the needs of your customers, rather than just being a glorified chatbot. You can tell an advanced AI from a simple one by looking for personalization — the more the AI can tailor the experience to each user, the smarter (and more effective) it is.

When orders start rolling in, collect data on your customers. As you gain insight into popular items, rush hours, top combos, and average spend, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions in your marketing, which will enable you to improve the voice ordering experience over time.

Finally, integrate voice orders into your POS so that they flow into your normal kitchen and delivery systems seamlessly. There’s no reason to have an automated AI if you still have to write everything down manually.

Voice commerce is here to stay, and the proof is all around. Early adopters are already enjoying the rewards of the growing voice assistant market, but we still have a few years before voice commerce dominates the food industry but we are sure that restaurant industry will be the first to reap the benefits.

The supply of voice-enabled restaurants is low, but the demand is skyrocketing. Now’s the time to start exploring solutions if you want to get ahead of the curve.

We’d love to help.

Voix is an AI-powered phone assistant that accepts calls on behalf of your restaurant. Our platform enables you to create a voice ordering experience that’s smooth, effective, and affordable. And thanks to our tech’s simple setup and powerful analytics, you’ll be gaining practical insight into your customers in no time.

Want to experience the future of food ordering for yourself and take steps to help your restaurant thrive in the voice economy?

Schedule a demo at voix.ai. We’ll show you how.

Voice Assistant for Restaurants