Voice Commerce technology is revolutionizing how consumers find and shop products online. OC&C estimates that $40bn (in the US) and $5bn (in the UK) will be spent through voice commerce by 2022, representing 6% and 3% of all online spend. Voice assistant devices are set to have a significant impact on business and will continue to change people’s shopping behaviors.
A brief history of eCommerce
The history of eCommerce dates back to the early 1970s when the first significant eCommerce company, CompuServe, was founded. Later Boston Computer Exchange launched in 1982, and it was the world’s first eCommerce company. In 1992 Stack introduced Book Stacks Unlimited as an online bookstore. Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in 1995 primarily as an eCommerce platform for books. Alibaba Online started in 1999 as an online marketplace. Etsy launches in 2005, providing crafters and smaller sellers to sell goods through an online market. In 2017, Instagram and BigCommerce enabled shopping on Instagram.
The recent progress in chatbots, digital voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, Google Now, and native language recognition using artificial intelligence (AI) is empowering a new shift towards a conversation based Ecommerce development. Given the consumer’s rising comfort level with virtual assistants and chatbots, widespread adoption of voice commerce is inevitable.
Voice Recognition Technology Going Mainstream
Surprisingly, voice recognition technology originated in 1961 when IBM introduced a computer called Shoebox, which had mathematical capabilities and could also identify 16 words and 9 digits. It’s been decades since the speech recognition technology was introduced. Since its inception, voice recognition technology made little progress in the past three decades. However, over the last few years, the technology has seen tremendous growth with advances in technologies like speech-to-text, Natural Language Processing, and cloud services, and contributed to the mass adoption of voice-enabled interfaces. Apple, Google, and Amazon are some of the eCommerce giants, paving the way for voice-enabled eCommerce platforms with virtual assistants, the likes of ‘Siri,’ ‘Google Now’ and ‘Alexa.’
What is Voice Commerce?
Voice commerce provides an alternative to using traditional input devices such as a keyboard, a virtual keyboard, or a mouse to search, order, and buy products online. All the customer needs is to search online using voice commands to a virtual assistant such as Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa.
Voice commerce provides impressive search capability, and shopping experience becomes faster, convenient, and user-friendly.
It’s not surprising to imagine voice-control being the new future of retail eCommerce. With Voice technology, we can expect :
To create a more streamlined Customer Experience
Imagine not having to wait in line for coffee. With advanced voice commerce support, products could be more accessible than ever. A customer could use a voice Assistant-powered device (example smartphone) to place an order, and the device would place the order and submit the request. Some customers are already doing this, getting information and products they need with just a few taps on their smartphone.
To Create more Personalized Experiences
Voice commerce is easy-to-use; therefore, people tend to interact more with their devices. Smart devices can collect volumes of data from their users and use this data to personalize their customer experience. Companies that collect data on consumer behavior, preferences, and historical information can develop great products and marketing strategies to cherish their customers with every purchase. Also, leave a lasting impact on them.
Are eCommerce giants embracing the paradigm shift?
- Amazon currently allows customers to buy digital media such as music and video games as well as physical goods. Presently, physical products cannot yet be purchased from within the ‘Alexa Skill App’ but will likely be available there too soon.
- Google facilitates the sale of physical products through Google Assistant and third-party apps. Additionally, Google has partnered with major brands such as Walmart, Target, Costco, Kohl’s, and Ulta, which supports the voice-enabled shopping platform.
- Apple is expected to be able to facilitate voice commerce through Apple Pay soon as well, though it is not currently available.
When reviewing the latest market research, it’s estimated that approximately 50% of all searches would be voice searches by 2020. Consumers search in several ways when using voice search compared to regular searches on mobile or web. The fundamental difference is that consumers tend to be very expressive to get the voice device to return with matching results. It means that we need to optimize our websites or mobile search applications to support them. We need to make sure that our Natural Language Processing algorithms would include natural language phrasing into textual content. It would help to deliver better and faster search results.
As social network users such as Facebook, Instagram, and more, we are giving up on some level of privacy to improve our personal experience online. The same goes for online and eCommerce shopping.
Enterprises need to come up with smart data management solutions(for example, distributed data storage) to store only the relevant data for consumer behavior without saving it on any other place. The challenge is hard, but I think it is reasonable before the customers would accept such a device as part of their daily habits.
How to prepare for the future with voice eCommerce?
Implement the voice SEO strategy. Keep a close eye on data to see which items are most popular on voice platforms. Individually, pay attention to whether shorter, more precise, or more extended more descriptive speech works better and for which products. Optimize listings when you recognize a need.
Focus on local search. Covering the range and variety of searches an individual might make through a voice-controlled device might seem impossible. The eCommerce business can look to the wording their ideal demographic is most likely to use, without risking the loss of a considerable number of shoppers. Delve into the data on age, location, interests, and habits of your customers to learn how your content and can better connect to their voice shopping searches and preferences.
Leverage the potential of social media. Let social media users know that they can purchase your product using voice technology. Provide deals and discounts that are voice assistant device accessible.
Voice offers a unique opportunity for businesses to deliver faster, more comfortable, and more convenient experiences. The investment in voice technology must begin with a real understanding of customer needs and how voice commerce can amplify existing omnichannel capabilities to provide differentiated benefits.