Think back to even just five years ago–would you have ever imagined that in a few short years we’d be asking a digital voice assistant to order us more eggs? While it may have started as a futuristic dream, voice commerce (v-commerce) is today’s reality–and quickly becoming one of the best ways for companies to create personalized and meaningful experiences with shoppers. More than a third of voice control users have checked out with a retail item or consumer product and that number is racking up quickly. Amazon and Google are leading in the the v-commerce space with “Alexa” and “Google Assistant” respectively, but brands small and large can use the trends in v-commerce to cater more closely to their customers.
The Technology Behind It
While the user experience is a no-brainer (“Hey, Alexa! Order more dish soap.”), the tech behind v-commerce is a little more advanced. The virtual personal assistance (VPA)-enhanced machines use AI-learning through the cloud, which listens to what the user is asking through an algorithm and figures out the answer or task. The assistants are constantly collecting user data to “learn” consumer behavior patterns and the machine tries to adapt accordingly to each user for a smoother experience. With the advancement of the technology behind VPAs constantly innovating, there still is a lot of room for mistakes. Many users have to repeat their statements because the VPA didn’t understand what was said. Not to mention, there’s still a lot of regulation to be determined around who has the rights to the data it records. With that said, as innovations in this space become more personalized to customers, wider adoption is surely on the horizon.
Opportunity for Marketers
Within three years, 31 percent of consumers will use a voice device instead of visiting a store. Marketers can create unique brand experiences by adapting online content to cater to natural-language voice inquiries. A few things to keep in mind: spoken queries are more likely to be longer and in full sentences, and there’s no visual element when purchasing with voice, so clear and concise confirmations when making v-commerce purchases are imperative in order to ensure trust for shoppers that may be a little wary of shopping with voice. Strategy consultant Noye Cokes stated, “In order to properly position themselves, retailers must ask themselves key questions, such as:
- What objectives am I trying to meet?
- How should I tailor my voice proposition to meet those objectives?
- Which AI system is best suited to enabling those objectives?”
The brands that are able to answer those questions the best are likely to stay on top of this next round of commerce interruption.
V-commerce is shaping up to be one of the most innovative shifts that retail has seen over the past several years. Marketers are used to perfecting all-visual campaigns–using billboards, smart packaging, and TV ads–and now with an intense focus on v-commerce, companies have to target their consumers in a completely different way. V-commerce is expected to leap to $40 billion by 2022, so tailored experiences for the voice-command shoppers are no longer a “nice-to-have”–they’re a must.