The future of commerce is voice

September 13, 2018
Hot topics 🔥
Innovation Insights
Elvire Jaspers
The future of commerce is voice

In our rapidly changing modern world, the automation of tasks once considered regular and mundane is making our lives more convenient than ever. From regulating the temperature of the thermostat from our smartphones to self-driving cars, it seems everything once considered a way of life is now being done for us at the click of a button and even by voice command. Yep, now even clicking on a button via a smartphone is too much hassle. We can simply talk to our automation butlers.

With the latest voice technology advancements and the subsequent rise in popularity of home-based smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home, voice commerce is considered to be the next big thing in both tech and e-commerce. While the current primary use for these devices is playing music, Googling things, weather forecasting and controlling smart-home systems, voice shopping is gaining popularity among users and is set to be a multi-billion dollar industry in the coming years.

Future focused

OC&C Strategy Consultants recently published a report detailing how 62% of home-based virtual assistant owners use the device to purchase groceries and electronics. At the moment this is based on the patterns of people reordering familiar products where the prices are predominantly fixed, so it’s not a transaction which requires much mulling over. But the forecast of voice shopping includes people using this technology to purchase everything, from cars to homes to vacation trips. OC&C predicted that voice shopping via these devices will jump from today’s $2 billion to $40 billion by 2022 as the technology improves.

As fresh as voice technology sounds, it has been around for some time. Our smartphones utilise this technology and as such we do too. So at a basic level, we are already accustomed to voice commanding our personalised gadgets. But soon more and more applications for voice commands will be prevalent, including voice prompted appliances, cars and general day-to-day products like light fixtures and even cameras. Voice will become pervasive.

Especially for you: Personalisation

Home-based virtual assistants will soon be able to know when you are in the kitchen cooking and suggest replacing finished or expired grocery products and appliances. Based on your purchase and browsing history these devices will gain a closer profile of your purchasing habits and will be able to provide detailed personalised purchasing suggestions and exposure to specials and deals.

But there are some limitations…

To each voice assistant, there is a corresponding shopperverse. What this means is that currently, you are only able to place orders to stores that your voice assistant has access to. For Alexa, there is the Amazon Marketplace, which in the broader scope of things isn’t much of a limitation because Amazon is the 3rd largest retailer in the world.

On the other hand, Google only has access to 60 Google Express retailers and Siri is entirely limited to what you can get your hands on through the iTunes store — which isn’t much. If you’re looking for more variety in your voice shopping experience, at the moment, you’re out of luck.

And what about the little fish

If you’re not a massive online store like Amazon, you’ll likely be feeling a little left out at the moment but fear not, there is a solution for you too! The current voice shopping system is a closed system and to get a piece of the action you need to be on the inside. The simplest route is to list some of your products on Amazon Marketplace. The downside is you have to use Amazon Prime for order fulfilment. But given the extended reach and the opportunity to get in on the ground floor with the voice shopping trend, it may well be worth it.

It could be better

At the moment, voice technology isn’t as great as it could be. Currently, each voice command device is different and requires unique methods to operate, add to that the lack of universal access to the land of online shopping (ie. payment limitations) and it becomes quite obvious that the technology requires fine-tuning to become globally trusted and used. Even then, brands will need to implement an appropriate voice strategy to make sure they are reaping the benefits of this technology.

Having said that the future of this technology looks good and as improvements are made over the next few years consumers will too adapt to this new technology as they have done in the past and it will soon become the norm. It will be a medium of significant value to both consumers and businesses, opening up a new platform for direct marketing and consumer profiling.

Elvire Jaspers

Elvire is WeAreBrain’s CEO. She has worked in the tech industry for many years, successfully running and selling her own start-up in 2017. With a big passion for sailing, she's very keen on conquering the seas (besides the tech space).

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