While there is no lack of smart speaker options and advanced voice technology on the market today – stemming from major players like Google, Amazon and Apple – consumers have yet to completely hop on the shopping by voice bandwagon. The convenience of shopping via voice, however, still holds the potential to be appealing for consumers. Because the future may include shopping by voice, marketers should continue to seek out new ways to engage consumers by voice and prepare for a potential future shift to voice shopping.
Though Slow, Use Of Voice Shopping Continues To Steadily Climb
While not as in-demand as other ecommerce options today, voice shopping has gained slow, but steady, momentum in recent years. In 2019, roughly 20% of smart speaker owners used their voice technology for “shopping-related activities,” inclusive of product research, drafting personalized shopping lists and price comparisons.
At the end of 2018, eMarketer predicted that, in 2019, 27% of smart speaker users would also be “buyers.” Similarly, the “Voice Report 2019” from Microsoft Bing study revealed that 40% of respondents from an online survey “have tried to make a purchase using their voice through either their digital assistant or smart home speaker,” and that “while many consumers are already using digital assistants to find products and store hours/location, in early 2018 over half of respondents (54%) believe that digital assistants will also help them make retail purchases within 5 years.”
In 2020, the latest reports on the state of voice shopping (or vCommerce) show that consumers are still not completely sold on making purchases by voice, but the numbers are gradually growing. In November, eMarketer predicted that 30.7 million U.S. consumers, ages 14+, (or 13.4% of digital shoppers) will shop, but not necessarily purchase, via smart speakers this year. Only about two-thirds of smart speaker shoppers (or 22.7 million consumers) are predicted to actually complete purchases at least once via smart speakers this year.
“For now, consumers typically use voice commerce for re-ordering common household goods such as toilet paper and laundry detergent, not so much visual or more complex purchases like apparel, flights or concert tickets,” said Vivek Pandya, Adobe lead analyst. Pandya added that, in regards to more “complex” purchases, “people are thinking about how many attributes are associated with what they're interested in buying and how satisfied they will be with the end product. So that's going to impact their likelihood to want to shop via voice or just get online on their phone or their laptop and get a full view of everything that's available to them.”
The Benefits Of & Potential For Shopping By Voice Is Still Relevant For Marketers Today
Roughly 60 million adults in the U.S. currently own smart speakers, and 94% of users who have embraced voice shopping technology find the option “easy to use” and “think it saves time and improves their quality of life.”
Clearly there is opportunity for vCommerce adoption to grow, but seamless user experiences, including advertising, product presentation and selection, payment and purchase confirmations, will be necessary for consumers to be satisfied with the voice shopping experience.
“While brands haven’t yet cracked the code on how to drive more voice shopping and buying, the number of voice assistant users is rising, and most industry practitioners believe voice has significant untapped marketing potential,” added Victoria Petrock, eMarketer principal analyst at Insider Intelligence.
vCommerce has a long way to go, and, in many ways, is still unchartered territory. While marketers can’t force consumers to evolve their shopping, they must make sure their businesses are prepared for when consumers jump on the voice shopping bandwagon by preparing seamless and trusted user experiences. If not, marketers face the possibility of playing catch-up to competitors who proactively invested more into voice shopping early on.
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About the AuthorMore Content by Carolyn Harding