With the advent of the internet and technologies like voice commerce catching up, buying and selling has evolved from retail stores to online stores. All the top brands today have online stores for selling their product and building their brand name through various marketing activities. The online user experience mainly entails viewing the product through an online application (Website or a mobile app) with the help of a device (Mobile, tablet, computer, etc) and placing orders.
So, the million dollar question that most brands struggle with on a daily basis is- What can we do to make our buying experience different and interesting? Is there a different way to buy things faster? While, there is no device available now, to know what is there in my mind but is there a way I can say and get things done. Basically, we wonder, is there something like a gene that can help better the whole experience?
If you are also pondering over these thoughts, then the answer is yes and the solution for it is voice commerce. Through this blog, I am going to try to shed some light on what I have learnt about voice commerce:
Is the Market Ready For Voice Commerce Solutions?
New user experience can evolve only when the dependent technologies evolve. One great example is Netflix which changed the way people view digital content. For online streaming to evolve and grow, internet speed(3G & 4G) and data handling technology(MP4, MPG, AVI, etc) are the prerequisites. Without this online video streaming will be a distant dream.
With the emergence of IoT, AI and ML voice commerce have become a reality. Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and Apple Siri have evolved to understand and respond to voice-based interactions. Most of these technologies are available for everyone to use and develop voice-based solutions.
Statistics show that the usage of Alexa for voice commerce is 2% as of now and it is likely to rise to 44% in the next 3 years. Forbes research shows 27% of the global online population is using voice search on mobile. Demand for voice controlled smart assistants has increased and 34% of internet users say they’re interested in purchasing it. Gartner predicts 25% of digital workers will use virtual employee assistants daily by 2021.
Why Do We Need Voice Commerce?
Younger generations are mostly the first to use the newer technologies and the older ones resist to change and stick to their older ways. In the case of voice applications, kids use it as a talking tom and for old age people, it has become a knowledgeable talking companion without any bias or emotional breakdown. With social distancing, voice applications are slowly becoming a friend and a guide which does not transmit any virus to us.
There are numerous reasons that can influence people to use voice commerce solutions. Following are the top reasons:
- The buying experience is made simple and easier.
- It is a faster way to buy.
- It is an innovative way to buy things that makes users feel smart and cool.
- Saves time since everything is automated.
These are some of the survey results but as we become closer to the device it is a general tendency to expect more from it.
Stages in a shopping experience where voice commerce can be used
Though we think buying is a simple process, in reality, there are different stages and it is much more complicated. I understood this when I went shopping with my wife. Voice commerce can be used in all these stages.
- Identifying a Product : Looking for solutions that will solve our problem.
- Product Analysis : Comparing product features, price, feedback, ratings, etc to finalize the product to be purchased. It is like looking at different brands and what they offer in a retail shopping experience.
- Product purchase : Selecting the shipping method, payment method and making the purchase. These can be automated in voice commerce.
- Post-Purchase : Checking the order status, providing feedback, returning the product and contacting the customer support.
What transactions are best suited for voice commerce?
Voice commerce is at the initial stage of evolution. Alexa is the most popular voice commerce application which is like a baby genie. Reorder is the most common transaction which is happening through Alexa as per the statistics. Following are some of the categories which are popular with voice commerce application in online stores like Amazon
- Music and movies
- Stationery items
- Electronic and Home appliances
In most of the above cases, the identify and analyze process is not involved. It is just a command to buy experience. Also the users went with well known brands which they have used before or they are confident about the quality.
Apart from online stores there are also some of the online services which are popular with voice commerce. Here too research, analysis and the after sales process is not involved. It is just a purchase and feedback process.
- Food ordering and delivery
- Streaming music and videos
- Hotel booking
- Travel ticket booking
- Ride/cab booking
Is voice commerce a threat to online and retail commerce?
Voice commerce, online commerce, and retail commerce are different modes through which a customer can make a purchase. Providing different modes with a multichannel experience brings in new customers and increases the revenue. Several times I have made an online purchase and done a store pickup. Similarly, voice commerce can complement other modes for better customer experience.
Voice commerce is expected to account for 20% compared with other modes of purchase. A retail customer can check the delivery status through voice commerce or an online customer can return a product through voice commerce application. All these finally provide better customer experience and satisfaction.
Challenges with voice commerce
We don’t think too much now while providing access to mic, speaker, camera, contacts, etc for an application to work on our personal device. In reality, they pose a serious risk to privacy and data security. Customer trust and confidence in a voice commerce platform depends on how these are handled.
There is also a lot of personal data involved like buying habits, products purchased, credit card details, product delivery information, etc. Keeping the customer aware of how the data is handled and the best practices used to secure their data will build customer confidence. Displaying the SSL certificate, payment gateway logos used on the website will make the customer feel secure. But the majority of the people are ready to take the risk when it is not life-threatening.
Born in the 20th century I have seen customer buying behavior evolve from retail to online and then to mobile commerce. With the smart devices around, the buying behavior is also going to become smarter through voice commerce in the coming years. Handling the challenges and moving faster with a voice commerce strategy will surely create an impact on the customer.
Most of the customer market surveys done by leading online eCommerce platforms like Amazon is also showing the same trend. Providing an omnichannel experience by integrating voice with other modes of buying will definitely lead to faster adoption of voice commerce solutions and help in increasing the customer base and revenue.