We’ve become a society of text and emails. Most people prefer to interact with quick messages over phone calls, but at some point, we get on the phone or leave an audio message because talking is more convenient for a lot of information.
Sometimes, people prefer to speak and be heard – which is the core of the trend of voice commerce. We enjoy the ease of using a voice assistant like Apple’s Siri or Google Assistant and other voice technology.
Aside from the day-to-day convenience for tasks like playing music on a drive or setting a calendar reminder, voice technology is making its way into eCommerce. Voice commerce is gaining significant traction and reshaping the future of online shopping.
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What Is Voice Commerce?
Voice commerce – or voice-based commerce, is a collection of technologies and systems that allow online consumers to explore and buy products or services with their voice instead of keyboard or touch screen. Using conversational eCommerce apps or websites, consumers can have a more human shopping experience.
Some examples of smart speaker technologies that facilitate this include Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and Apple’s Siri. People can ask devices questions using this technology, including searching for and ordering products.
When people use voice commerce, it’s more than just shopping. This technology can encompass the entire span of the buyer’s journey. For example, people can ask questions like:
- Problem: “Alexa, why do I need an air purifier?”
- Solution: “Alexa, what is the best air purifier?”
- Search: “Alexa, show me stores where I can buy an air purifier.”
- Investigation: “Alexa, tell me more about the Dyson air purifier.”
- Purchase: “Alexa, buy it now.”
With voice technology, customers can search through catalogs of products, ask questions, check product ratings, see what’s in stock, leave product reviews, and place orders. This leads to a better user experience with a hands-free buying journey.
How Does Voice Commerce Technology Work?
Voice-enabled commerce uses several technologies to operate:
Next-Generation Speech Recognition
Voice commands used to be clumsy and unreliable, but giants like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft invested significant capital into natural language understanding (NLU) in recent years to develop speech recognition. These platforms are now relying on deep neural networks to accurately interpret customer commands despite grammar choices, background noise, and differences in accents and dialects.
Advanced Text to Speech
Advanced text to speech capabilities allow companies to create and deploy lifelike sales marketing tactics. Using multiple languages, dialects, and personalities, this technology can build relationships with customers without the need for more staff.
Voice technology platforms allow simple and reliable voice-based authentication to add a layer to communications operations. This offers added security to both personal and business calls and helps to stop fraud before it can occur.
All businesses benefit from knowing what their customers are doing online, their sentiment about their brands, and the process they take to complete a purchase. Voice technology delivers better demographic and psychographic insights regarding user behaviors using predictive analytics.
Who’s Using Voice Commerce?
On a daily basis, 65% of people 25 to 49 speak to their devices at least once, making them the most active demographic accessing voice technology. Of this demographic, the breakdown is:
- 59% are 18 to 24 years old
- 65% are 25 to 49 years old
- 57% are 50+ years old
Benefits of Implementing a Voice Commerce Solution
According to a study from Juniper Research, digital voice assistants will reach 8 billion active units by the end of 2023, which is an increase of almost two and a half since 2019. Furthermore, 20% of Google searches come from voice query. Though eCommerce trends are always shifting, voice commands seem to be here to stay.
Here are some benefits of voice-enabled commerce:
Enhanced Customer Experience
Customers have a more personalized shopping experience when they use voice search features. These solutions enhance the shopping experience by delivering recommendations based on user preferences.
For example, if someone uses AmazonFresh for daily shopping through Alexa, the tool can make further recommendations for products based on those dietary preferences.
In another example, Sephora uses a virtual artist to determine a customer’s skin tone, facial features, and preferences to recommend the ideal products.
Gain Brand Awareness
When customers buy from a particular brand, they want to connect with the company and their products or services to be part of their daily lives. If the target audience is a young generation, they’re even more open to technology solutions.
Voice search also identifies shopping behaviors and habits to assist customers and ensure they don’t miss out on items they need. This creates a flawless and enjoyable shopping experience.
Customer needs and shopping behaviors adapt over time. While Google hasn’t released full data on keywords for voice SEO, conducting keyword research and using conversational long-tail keywords for voice search can improve SEO.
More Customer Reviews
A voice search allows customers to share feedback more easily, which makes the feedback more meaningful and genuine as virtual assistants ask for ratings and specific questions. Customers use their voices for faster and more convenient reviews, making them more likely to leave a review on a product or service.
The average person types about 40 words per minute, but a voice search can process about 100 words per minute. Voice search encourages users to communicate faster and get timely results, which is appealing to customers who are trying to get shopping done while they’re going about their days.
Voice commerce makes online shopping more accessible to a broader audience, including people with disabilities or limited digital literacy. People with disabilities comprise about 16% of the global population, which is 1.3 billion people worldwide, but most businesses don’t cater to their needs with true accessibility.
Important Considerations for Voice Search
Though voice search is beneficial for virtually every business, especially if you have an eCommerce business, it’s important to build compatibility for voice search. With a prominent brand that has a lot of products, this can be challenging.
There are other things to consider, including:
- Language: Voice commerce for international brands can be challenging with different languages and dialects. It’s important to invest in natural language processing to adapt to different markets.
- Privacy: Voice commerce and natural language processing allow people to speak to their devices, but that can create privacy concerns. You must provide additional privacy assurance for the end user to make sure that they feel comfortable and know that you’re not sharing their info with third parties.
- Trustworthiness: With technology security concerns, US citizens are less trusting of technology companies. It’s best to work with technology providers who demonstrate trustworthiness.
- Site speed optimization: A fast mobile page loading time is crucial for Google rankings and satisfying customers. If your website doesn’t load quickly, the voice search function can’t retrieve all the information requested by customers.
- Schema markup: Search engines use schema markups (structured data) to read your website. Structured data provides a competitive advantage and better keyword ranking. These markups are designed for search engines, so make sure your product titles and descriptions are voice-friendly and consider adding schema markup to your site to make it more accessible to voice assistants.
Will Voice Commerce Keep Growing?
The future of voice commerce has immense potential for growth and innovation. As this technology continues to evolve and consumers have more voice-enabled devices, we can expect that the experience will become more seamless and intuitive voice interactions.
Along with this, the growing trend of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) – which is also making waves in eCommerce – voice commerce can facilitate more immersive shopping experiences.
How Many Sales Are Made Using Voice Commerce?
According to Statista, almost two billion dollars came from transactions made through Google Home or Amazon Echo in the US in 2022. The total worldwide transaction value of eCommerce purchases made through voice assistants is expected to rise from 4.6 billion dollars in 2021 to 19.4 billion dollars in 2023.
Tips for Voice Commerce
If you want to include more voice commerce in your eCommerce business or custom app, here are some tips for success:
- SEO: Regular SEO is important, but voice SEO is the key to strong performance with voice commerce. optimize your content with long-tail keywords and conversational phrases that mimic how people ask questions.
- Storytelling: Voice shopping is more than product descriptions. Create stories around your brand and products that captivate customers for a more memorable experience.
- Chatbots: Chatbots and voice assistants are two parts of a seamless voice commerce experience. Integrate chatbots into your voice commerce strategy to provide customers with interactive support solutions and great online customer service.
Voice Commerce is the Future of eCommerce
Voice commerce is a growing trend with the potential to skyrocket your online business. It’s important to understand how voice commands work, how your customer will use them, and how to overcome the challenges in implementing voice commands in your business.
Rachel Valentine is General Manager and Head of People Operations at Vincit US. She was integral to Vincit’s expansion in the Orange County, California and Arizona markets. During her time, Vincit has been recognized by Fast Company as a Best Workplace for Innovators 2020, and by Inc. Magazine as a Best Workplace in 2019. Vincit has also received workplace and culture-focused awards from Orange County Business Journal, Orange County Register, Tech in Motion and more.