man using phone with voice commands

Voice is changing the way consumers are shopping online

It seems like, these days, you see an Amazon Alexa or a  Google Home everywhere. It’s not uncommon to see a person shout across the room to their voice device trying to turn the television on.

Amazon and Google have sold over 27 million voice command devices in the United States alone, and Apple’s Siri is available to more than 500 million users across the world. 

With the increased adoption of voice assistants, consumers are depending on them to do simple tasks like telling time, setting alarms or even making calls, so that they can focus their attention on some other tasks. However, it’s not just those simple tasks anymore, voice assistants are being increasingly used for online shopping, with users giving voice commands to the assistant about what products to purchase. Consumers are able to multitask without having to manually search different e-commerce portals and selecting products through each of their product categories, thereby, saving a lot of time.

Retailers, recognizing this trend, are slowly incorporating voice to further enhance the user experience. Incorporating voice in the shopping experience not only ups the convenience level of a shopper but also saves time lost in typing and searching for products. 21% of all Alexa and Home users have stated that they are shopping via their device today. Leveraging AI, voice recognizes language patterns such as dialects, intonations, and accents enabling them to converse with the user in a natural, conversational manner. The potential of turning the shopping world upside down is very high and the most immediate impact will be in the following areas:

Better searchability

SEO becomes beneficial for any retailer as it drives maximum traffic for e-commerce. However, there is a lot of difference between typing in search terms and using voice. Technology needs to evolve to differentiate voice commands from typewritten keywords. This will help to institute searchability and compatibility towards voice commands. Understanding the context is important as Voice is conversational. For example, auto-fill options must be provided for sentences or questions to understand the user intent.

With consumers increasingly moving towards voice search, e-commerce businesses must align their website and product pages to account for voice.

amazon echo dot

Ease of providing product reviews

The increase in voice searches eliminates having to browse through different categories and multiple pages. Furthermore, this has raised the importance of online reviews for products and services. The feedback loop between the retailer and the customer becomes more efficient and seamless.

For instance, imagine a customer ordered a pair of Nike Running shoes but never got around to filling out the review. The voice assistant would then ask questions like: “How would you rate your Nike Running shoes from one to five stars? Did it fit as you expected?” By answering these quick questions, the shopping experience can become increasingly personalized, providing better recommendations for the customer.

Online reviews will become increasingly important with almost 85% of voice-based customers trusting the recommendations provided by their assistants. These recommendations, in turn, are based on the top-reviewed products of that query making providing reviews more important than ever for retailers.

Shipment Tracking made easy

In the future, voice commands may not only be restricted to ordering products or proving reviews for them. Users may even get quick updates about their orders and their shipping status. There is a need for these complex processes to become more intuitive especially when consumers expect prompt responses. The retailer can enhance the shopping experience by connecting shipping operations with the voice app enabling users to get quick updates about their shipping status.

flat lay photography of coral Google Home Mini on black surface beside Apple AirPods

Although voice search and shopping is the next big thing, there are a number of challenges that are left unaddressed. The technology, in its current state, is yet to be equipped to handle complicated queries such as comparing different products. Many users still don't believe that the assistants can pick a product without choice, based on their query.

The consumer behavior is changing and as the popularity of using voice search grows, retailers must make decisions and act fast to cope with the change.

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