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Voice Shopping and eCommerce: Should Retailers get Ready for a Change?

Voice Shopping and eCommerce: Should Retailers get Ready for a Change?

Voice Shopping and eCommerce: Should Retailers get Ready for a Change?

In order to come up with new ways of delighting customers and increasing sales, the e-commerce industry actively deploys the latest technologies. Competition is fierce and whoever acts first, wins.

The Internet of Things and artificial intelligence became a must-have rather than a wow-factor for the majority of online stores, so e-commerce has been steadily introducing a new trend, which is voice shopping. Appealing as it may sound, voice shopping has not gained worldwide recognition yet, though it’s estimated to grow up to about $40 billion in 2020. But are these estimations justified?

The state of voice shopping today

A research by Invesp suggested that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be done by voice, which will lead to the voice shopping rapid growth. As well, the number of voice-enabled virtual assistants will grow to 75.5 million by 2019, as the research suggests.

Customers today are already used to voice search or voice-driven assistants. Think of Google and its voice search option or Siri who can recognize your voice and give you corresponding suggestions and answers. And after Amazon introduced its digital assistant Alexa back in 2014, the company has been constantly working on various innovations in order to develop Alexa into something more than just an assistant.

What we have today is the opportunity to shop with Alexa – and this is exactly what the future of voice shopping is probably going to look like. But, same as any other product, Amazon Voice Shopping has its cons that do not allow the product to become full-fledged yet.

Shopping with Alexa: what’s so good about it

Alexa is a virtual assistant that was developed by Amazon and runs on a variety of devices, Amazon Echo being the most well-known of them. Recently, Amazon introduced Alexa Shopping – an option to choose and order from a huge variety of products on Amazon with a voice command only.

The process is really simple:

  • Get an account on Amazon if you don’t have one
  • Enter the payment and delivery information
  • Tell Alexa what you want: to order, reorder, put in the cart, etc.
  • Wait for your delivery!

Of course, to be able to shop with Alexa, you need to have an Amazon Echo or other device that is compatible with Alexa Voice Shopping.

Amazon Voice Shopping has a number of useful features that strive to make the shopping experience as convenient and hassle-free as possible:

  • Ordering: “Alexa, order orange juice”
  • Adding to the cart: “Alexa, add shampoo to the cart”
  • Reordering: “Alexa, reorder chocolate chip cookies”
  • Notification about delivery

In addition, you can ask Alexa to check the price for a certain item, tell you what’s in the cart, track orders and more. Amazon indeed took care of making your shopping experience as natural as possible.

As well, the company went an extra mile and implemented some additional features. To prevent unintended purchases, you can set up a security code to confirm the payment. As well, if you want certain items to be reordered on a regular basis, you can set up Alexa to notify you every time the product has to be reordered.

But Amazon Voice Shopping does have a minor flaw. You cannot order multiple and different items in one transaction: meaning, you cannot say “Alexa, order soap and bread”. Instead, you will have to give two separate commands with two different items in each.

Overall, it seems like a pretty convenient way to shop online. So why do only 2% of the Echo users shop via voice?

The issues with voice shopping

There are a few issues related to voice shopping that may serve as a stopper for the customers.

No visual confirmation

When you browse the online store, you see all the products available and, based upon that list, make a certain choice. But with voice shopping, you don’t choose a certain product by brand or its contents. You just say: “Alexa, order shampoo” – and who knows what will you get? Of course, Alexa will form an order based on your previous purchases or, if it’s the first time you order this item, it will offer you something from the recommended products. But what if you want to try something new? You’ll spend half an hour on a roll call instead of choosing exactly what you need within a minute or two in the browser.

Low level of trust

This issue is a bit psychological and refers to a human nature. During voice shopping, we basically entrust a machine to choose goods for us and our family. And even though we can deal with the wrong brand of toilet paper, it will be more complicated when ordering food or beauty products.

Voice shopping and Magento

in 2018, the number of websites running on Magento was approximately 651,000, according to Social Media Today. It, therefore, makes sense for the Magento store owners to consider using voice search in order to elevate the performance and gain a competitive advantage.

The easiest thing to do is implement “search by voice” extension into the online stores. Such extensions are available in Magento marketplace or can be developed individually for a store upon request.

Also, ready solutions for Magento-powered stores start to pop out, following the trend. Tappy is one of the examples  – a voice assistant by Netstarter that is featured in the Innovations Lab on Magento website. Tappy is integrated with Google, Magento and Google chatbot services and aims to create a perfect shopping experience for the users.

Tappy reminds of Amazon Echo heavily but, unlike Echo, it does not limit the customer’s options to Amazon Store only. While the creators still have to work on their marketing strategy, Tappy proves that the development of voice assistants for specific e-commerce platform is just a question of time.

And don’t forget that Magento can be easily integrated with Amazon, eBay, and other online retailers – meaning, a Magento store owner can make full use of Amazon Echo and any other similar devices.

Is there a future for voice shopping?

Definitely yes. We should not forget that e-commerce did not develop overnight as well. The first online stores appeared approximately in 1994, and e-commerce reached 6% share of total sales volume only in 2014.

Thus, there is a chance that voice shopping will unwind and eventually become a $40 billion market. Until then, the online store business owners can start their research on whether it’s time to experiment with voice shopping and what’s the best strategy for its implementation.

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