Voice ecommerce - are we talking about disruption here?

October 2018

Going way beyond the traditional way of shopping online, the voice ecommerce took over the innovation’s scene and it seems to show a lot of promise in the ecommerce ecosystem. Consumers have realised that point-and-click is now a basic feature and that other methods are here to take care of their comfort and overall experience. At the same time, technology vendors and merchants have certainly noticed that voice commerce is a unique fast service feature that could not only improve customer experience but also help organisations with successful customer retention.

According to the 2017 Future of Retail study by Walker Sands, 1 in every 5 consumers in the USA has already purchased something using a voice-controlled device such as Amazon Echo. An Adobe Analytics report has revealed that 47% of users are now using smart speakers to research a product, 43% to create shopping lists and 32% to compare product prices. Almost three quarters (71%) of smart speaker owners also use their voice assistant daily.

Merchants with ecommerce sites are aware that they have to stay ahead of the competition by keeping pace with the consumers’ needs. Recently, Argos, a British online retail store that offers a range of consumer products, has enabled click-and-collect via voice commerce, by launching a service that can be used to reserve products for same-day pick-up from one of their stores.

Conversational commerce is key for merchants not only because it improves customer experience, but it also helps them shape the customer behaviour, thus becoming simpler to personalise offers, payment methods, or other options.

As regards the development and adoption of the voice commerce technology, it is estimated that by the end of 2018, 55% of merchants will have some form of voice assistant integration in their system, and 60% of retailers will have websites optimized for mobile voice search. Currently, Facebook Messenger users already make purchases via chatbots, which means the voice integration is closer. Also, with Amazon’s Alexa, people can now place an order online.

According to data from OC&C Strategy Consultants, the growth in the voice segment will be driven by a surge in the number of homes using smart speakers, rising to 55% from 13% today. Large retailers, including Walmart, Costco, Target and Home Depot, have collaborated with Google to develop voice-based shopping via Google Express.

Lately, the technology providers have cast a wider net by upgrading the voice assistants to home speakers. Google Home, Amazon Echo and Apple HomePod are now your ‘AI-based roomies’, and they are also multilingual. Google now allows Google Home users to place voice-based orders to select store partners, while Amazon has launched a new generation of devices as part of its Echo line, for enhanced conversational capability, better memory, improved voice recognition and smart interaction (which is closer to natural human interaction).

Voice commerce was set for disruption and has become a standalone feature open to new developments. If yesterday we discussed ecommerce services in general, today we extract that particular service (i.e. voice commerce) and tomorrow we will make it better.