Since they were introduced Smart Speakers have rendered users a hands-free shopping experience by enabling them to order products by using just voice commands, users don’t even have to look at the products they want to purchase. With voice recognition Voice Shopping has given a more personalized touch to ordering products, listing and recommending specific user products and preferences is basic now. This puts Voice Shopping over and above any shopping method as it requires least of user intervention, with zero distractions and way simpler shopping experience.
It is interesting to note though that Voice Shopping removes one of the crucial aspects of shopping that is the visual aspect almost completely, and yet it is expected to grow from a $2billion market value to a whopping $40 billion by 2022. Unless users know exactly what product of what brand they want to buy they are dependent on the suggestions from Smart Speakers. Voice Shopping is most efficient when the platform is already aware of user’s purchasing history and can form patterns from them to suggest preferred products. This is becoming a concern as companies have to find ways to improve their product recommendations and discovery to push users to do more regular shopping via voice commands.
To break the bias Amazon Created to its voice shoppers by recommending their own products over others, retailers are desperately looking for other platforms to connect with consumers. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. joined hands with Google Home to allow their consumers to put orders via Google Home and enjoy the same experience of Voice Shopping. With Google entering the picture and bringing in its state of the art search marketing algorithm along, it might prove to be a threat to Amazon’s position in the Voice Shopping market.
Market Research reports From OC&C Strategy Consultants and RBC Capital Markets predict that a massive increase in Voice Shopping is to expected come following the wide acceptance of Smart Speakers by users, as more people are using Smart Speakers to make at least one purchase. However, these purchases are mostly low-value purchases, with a maximum of 20% going to Grocery, 19% to entertainment, 17% to electronics, and 8% to clothing. Acknowledging this trend Amazon’s acquisition of whole foods was a smart move as they try to meet the wide range of customer shopping needs.
Suppliers and retailers are struggling to find ways to invest in the marketing of their products to better reach consumers. With average user spending more time on the mobile phone than any other place, marketing focus has shifted towards mobile phone ads and in-App Ads. But with users continuously inclining towards Voice Shopping, advertising is going to be a difficult task, as consumers prefer more simplified and personalized shopping experience, it is going to be harder to catch their attention and reach them via conventional Ads.
Going forward brands will have to incorporate AI into their marketing strategy and would have to understand how consumers interact with products. With most of the users voice ordering their products online, brands need to improve their marketing strategy to make it more involving and user-centric. Rather than simply magnifying their product’s features they probably should include how their product can solve user’s problems. So when user voice commands for how to do stuff, they may actually find a step by step guide along with products that can help them in the process. With visual aspect missing from Voice Shopping, banners and flashy content are of no use, conventional e-commerce optimization like search ranking, genuine content and ratings are becoming more important than ever.
The problem, however, is that Voice Recognition and Natural Language Processing is still in its primitive state and need a lot of refining. It has been reported by the users that Amazon echo has provided inconsistent responses to common questions while the user was expecting better answers. As the technology for Voice Recognition, Natural Language Processing and Internet of Things mature Voice Shopping is going to revolutionize the entire shopping experience. The limitations of product discovery and advertising will fade away soon, as the true potential of hands-free shopping unveils, with better user profiling based on preferences, purchasing history and wishlists commanding the recommendation system.