Voice Shopping, What’s In Store?

Have you ever thought that if YouTube had launched in the 1990s, it would have flopped, not because it wasn’t a good idea, but because neither the fast internet connections nor the software required to view videos was available then. The conditions weren’t right for the innovation. In many ways, the same is so for voice technology. Looking at the way voice technology has been used, many are skeptical about whether the future is voice. Yet in the same way that YouTube needed to wait for faster internet, voice technology has really been lying in wait for the Internet of Things to emerge.

Voice-activated devices such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, along with the rise of voice assistants such as Siri, are starting to emerge as part of many people’s every day internet experiences. By 2020, it’s expected there will be more than 75 million US smart speaker users and it’s a trend we’re starting to see in Australia too. Forty-six percent of Australians are excited or willing to use an in-home voice assistant to interact with and shop from retailers.

But what does this all mean for the retail industry? And how should retailers be incorporating voice technology into their strategy? We decided to investigate the scale of the opportunity in our recent webinar hosted by NORA which you can download here. Here are some of the key takeaways from the webinar:

The Internet of Things

A rapid uptake in smart speakers, in particular Google Home, is creating the foundation for an ‘internet-connected device explosion’, according to Telsyte. The Australian smart home device market grew 55 percent in 2017 and the average Australian household now has 17.1 connected devices (up from 13.7 in 2017). As smart speakers and other IoT items enter the mainstream, it’s the perfect opportunity for voice commerce to similar become the norm.

New Models are Emerging

In 2017, eBay teamed up with Google Assistant, allowing Australians to shop from their Google Home and Android Smartphone in time for Christmas. EBay claimed to be one of the first brands to take advantage of multi-surface switching capability. This technology allows users to carry natural language conversations on Google Assistant to complete a purchase. Around the same time, Officeworks announced their integration with Google Assistant that allows consumers to browse their entire catalogue, check the availability of items, create shopping lists and check store details. Woolworths also developed an App for the Google Assistant. Customers can use their voice to build shopping lists and edit them wherever and whenever they like. They can then and use the lists in store or online.

As retailers understand the way in which consumers want to interact with them, the capabilities of voice commerce will evolve.

As if retailers don’t have enough platform challenges on their hands with in-store, online, mobile, marketplaces and social media as places to get their goods in front of their customers, now they are having to deal with yet another interface: voice. Whilst e-commerce on voice devices is still in its infancy, the opportunity is clearly massive. Some of the clearest applications for voice include reordering, tracking orders and re-arranging orders and setting up returns.

Voice will have a similar impact: it will become one of the ways in which parts of the purchase journey are made. It may be the platform where the order is placed; it may be where reviews are sought; it may be the place to check the weather and buy a bus ticket to go to the shops. The crucial thing is that voice is now part of the ‘commerce’ journey and needs to be factored in to any omni-channel strategy

What Now?

Marketers should be experimenting now not waiting until “it all gets figured out.” For many, voice technology and commerce is the stuff of the future – but the future may be closer than you think. We have this functionality now, many of us are using it with a further entire generation of kids growing up thinking it normal to talk to the internet. And if the rapid rate of adoption is anything to go by, voice commerce is set to be an integral channel for retailers and one you can’t afford to be complacent about.

For more information on how you can prepare for what’s coming next, contact us today.