With the COVID-19 pandemic leaving a lot to worry about, the world has come to a standstill. It is at least heartwarming to see how brands (irrespective of their sizes) are stepping up and donating essentials even as their top and bottom lines are breaking down.
It also turns out that voice assistants are helping people to act together virtually in this time of crisis. Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s Home Assistant are seen joining the movement by releasing upgrades related to COVID-19.
On a technical note, these smart devices do not need any browser or screen-based application to function. It is safe to assume that when the current situation eases voice commerce will take over the digital revolution and emerge a game-changer for retail and e-commerce brands.
With physical stores under lockdown, what better time to explore this new technology at hand?
What is voice commerce
Voice commerce or voice-assisted commerce in the retail and e-commerce industry refers to a type of conversational commerce in which a customer interacts with a brand, and sales are made through voice recognition technology.
It is quite similar to traditional e-commerce, where customers need to type in a query on the search bar to conduct a search. Except for voice commerce works on the voice command of the customer.
How Is Voice Commerce Changing the Retail and Ecommerce Business?
AI-enabled voice commerce has completely changed the way we communicate and shop online. Brands are constantly on the lookout for new ways for promotion, upsell, security, payment, and customer service without hiring humans.
It won’t be long until voice commerce will overpower the market and become as common as smartphones.
The good news is that things are already picking pace.
Here are some of the most obvious ways of how voice commerce is changing the e-commerce market today.
- Big brands are giving a tough competition.
Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are the torchbearers in voice interface, chatbots, and NLP respectively. What more? According to what was revealed by SVP Dave Limp in an interview with The Verge, Amazon has sold more than 100 million devices with voice assistant Alexa to date.
- Voice-based shopping is doing a good job.
With the “more talking, less texting approach”, shopping using natural speech is gaining momentum. It is helping people multi-task instead of only sticking to typing on the search bar at a time. According to Zion Market Research, the global voice-based smart speaker market will be valued at $30 billion by 2024.
- Voice assistants are coming up with their brand signatures.
Remember, during the days of radio advertising? Brands use to promote signature sound bites and jingles. It seems like voice commerce has once again turned the tables. Apple’s “Hey, Siri,” Google’s “OK, Google,” and Amazon’s “Alexa” has been doing an awesome job in this regard.
Digging into the size of the market
Speaking of voice-enabled shopping, the term is not limited to buying things. The bigger picture involves conducting product research, comparing prices, adding to cart, and more. Speaking of which, a report by Adobe Digital Insights states:
- 43% of smart speaker buyers use them for creating shopping lists.
- 47% conduct product research.
- 32% use them only for price comparison.
But then, most of the items purchased are digital products. For example, music and movies. Customers are still not comfortable shopping for everyday essentials or high-priced items.
In fact, another report by Voice Shopping Consumer Adoption Report uncovers the market reality stating that over 85% of voice commerce customers shop for USD 100$ or less.
Preparing Customers for Voice-Assisted Shopping
With the escalating popularity of voice commerce, brands are investing heavily to capture their part of the market share. When Adobe conducted a study on 400 decision-makers it revealed:
- 91% have already made a bulk load of investments in voice technology.
- 94% plans to make more investments in the future.
Only investments wouldn’t trigger the purchasing flow. Clearly, brands need to address customer service, trust, and privacy.
- Enabling frictionless customer service: A report by Voicebot AI says that 60% of consumers use voice-enabled devices to contact customer service centers. Brands need to pave their way for seamless customer service.
- Enhancing customer trust and privacy: Brands need to be particular and transparent about what data they collect and how it is being used. A study by Microsoft reveals that 41% of customers are concerned about data privacy and do not trust voice assistants completely.
Limitations of Voice Commerce
Voice Commerce has the potential to become a game-changer in the years to come. And when that happens, it will bring about a revolution to B2B and B2C e-commerce.
But, voice commerce isn’t without limitations too. We have listed a few of those below:
- Language limitation: Human voices are unique, and computers are not programmed to understand accents and dialects.
- Computerized interactions: Voice assistants do not speak as humans do. People expect them to be more intuitive and interactive, like conversations between two people.
- Obvious knowledge gap: The majority of voice-assistant owners do not even know how to use them and what their capabilities are.
- Trust issues: There are no visuals to back up the buying decisions, which is why most customers limit themselves to research and comparison only.
The Rise of Voice Commerce in the Future
Voice Commerce backed by smart speakers and digital voice assistants is here to stay. All brands need is to channelize their potential in the right direction. And for that to happen, they need to design intuitive interfaces accompanied by multimodal variations.
Moving on, technologies like artificial intelligence and native language processing (NLP) are undergoing massive transformation, which means the world is on the verge of an upgrade.
Additionally, coming up with ways to integrate voice and visuals will help a great deal in increasing customer confidence and triggering purchases.
2020 is expected to be the year of voice commerce. Continuous development in privacy and security concerns will compensate for any shortcomings of the voice-enabled technology. Overall, the robustness of voice commerce will grow louder with widespread adoption.
And yes! It will be a complete game-changer. Those willing to adapt will become a part of the mainstream, and those that do not will deteriorate in their bottom line.
Rakesh Soni is CEO of LoginRadius, a leading provider of cloud-based digital identity solutions. The LoginRadius Identity Platform serves over 3,000 businesses and secures one billion digital identities worldwide. LoginRadius has been named as an industry leader in the customer identity and access management space by Gartner, Forrester, KuppingerCole, and Computer Weekly. Connect with Soni on LinkedIn or Twitter.
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