Ok, Google! What’s the price of 55″ OnePlus Smart TV?
Hey Alexa! Is there a Sale on Groceries at Walmart?

Have you tried asking any of the above or similar questions to your voice assistant?

What answers did you get?

There are chances that you might be served with a decent and apt answer for the above questions. But what if you ask, “Alexa, Order me a Pizza, Garlic Bread, and a cold coffee.” In such situations, the difficulty arises. What Pizza toppings, what type of garlic bread, stuffed or not? Cold Coffee with cream or plain! There are a number of questions that can arise around it.

Conversational commerce, as it is termed, is still in its infancy phase across the industries. Yet, at some places around the world, smart speakers are being used to add products to cart with the intent of purchasing them online or in-app.

But will this voice ordering and conversational commerce work for eCommerce businesses?

Here are a few statistics that highlight how Voice search is going to grow in the market:

  • As per a report by ComScore, in 2020, more than half of all smartphone users are leveraging voice search technology.
  • Voice Labs in a survey found out there are a total of 33 million voice-first devices in circulation.
  • In July 2019, Adobe released survey data that suggests 48% of consumers are voice searching for general web searches.

The above statistics say it all, right! Voice commerce is beginning to pick up, and hence it’s imperative you must learn all about it. Let’s dive deep into what voice commerce is and how it will be crucial for your eCommerce business.

If you’re a retailer and you’re not preparing for this significant trend of eCommerce going toward v-commerce, then you won’t be around

–Greg Melich, Senior Retail Analyst at MoffettNathanson

What is Voice Commerce?

Voice Commerce is a modern technology that allows consumers to purchase voice commands and portable devices. Users tend to speak to their mobile devices or digital assistants what product to look for, and it searches it on the web.

Smart speakers such as Google Home, Amazon Echo, and smartphones powered with Google Assistant, Cortona, and Siri are making it convenient for users to realize such shopping methods online.

Such a mode of making a purchase is faster and can be accomplished at any point in time (throughout the day). You can place an order or add a product to the cart while having a shower or even driving a car.

Why do consumers prefer Voice commerce?

Per a report on voice shopping consumer adoption, the following were listed as the top reasons consumers prefer voice shopping:

  • It’s faster and easier to get answers and results
  • It’s hands-free
  • It’s possible to perform while engaged in other tasks.

Consistent with the Adobe survey, a report presented by Microsoft in April found a more specific hierarchy of search’ use cases’ on smart speakers and smartphones. As per the research, users primarily use voice search for the following:

  • 65% for Asking Directions
  • 68% to searching for quick facts
  • 47% to search for a local business
  • 44% to research about a product or service
  • 39% to make a shopping list

How does Voice Ordering Work?

This Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) based voice assistants are powerful tools that offer tremendous convenience to consumers. In coming years, both are bound to disrupt consumer behavior and shopping processes.

— Nicole Teriaca, Director of Digital Strategy, Rave Digital

Understanding voice ordering is easy for people who have kept voice assistants in their dining or workplace. There are two leading makers of smart speakers; Google Home (powered by Google Assistant) and Amazon Echo (powered by Alexa), which are voice-controlled virtual assistants.

These virtual assistants are looked up to for numerous purposes and tasks. A few of them include playing music, researching the web for news, finding particular information on any topic, or even executing a home automation function.

Over time these assistants have enabled users to order their choice of food as well.

Let’s now learn how virtual assistants will be employed for online ordering or shopping!

Suppose you’re using Amazon Echo as your assistant. Now to place an order, you’ll have to say “Alexa order,” followed by the name of the product you want to purchase.

Once you ask this to perform, the backend algorithm would check your buying history and suggest the products based on the past available data. If there is no previous data for that product, Alexa would then first recommend you with ‘Amazon choice’ products for the category. Next, Alexa would announce the product’s price and also ask if you would like to purchase it.

After your approval of purchasing the product, Alexa would place the order. And if you aren’t convinced with the product description and prices, Alexa might suggest other options as well.

Google is one step ahead in offering the convenience to voice order. With Google Express, Google has partnered with retail giants such as Walmart, Costco, and Target. Once the user links their Google Express and Walmart/Costco accounts, Google assistant can gain access to a shoppers’ stored purchase history. This would help the virtual assistant to track consumers’ choices, preferences, and previously ordered products.

What does Voice Search demand from eCommerce Businesses?

The global adoption of voice technology and trends means that many changes are coming in the way consumers interact and engage online. To match up to consumer demands, Marketers will have to fine-tune SEO strategies in order to optimize stores, products, and services for voice search.

Here, you must note, Google has already nailed it to an accuracy rate of 95% with its voice recognition. It’s not just Google; other tech giants are also putting efforts to reach perfection in their voice searches.

This is all indicative that online businesses and services must include Voice SEO in their digital strategies.

You might ask, Voice SEO! Is that even a thing?

Well, it is, and you must prepare for it.

Voice SEO has emerged as one of the vital things to consider for your digital marketing efforts. It deals with the optimization of keywords and phrases for searches done through voice assistants.

How can you optimize for Voice Search?

Although a digital marketing expert would answer this question best, here are a few tips to be considered when thinking about optimizing your store/content for voice search:

  • Using natural language with direct answers to specific questions
  • As per the understanding of Google algorithms, search rankings and domain rankings play a significant role in the appearance of voice search results.
  • Focusing on schema markup and rich snippets would ensure you to bag top position on search results.
  • For local voice searches, you must keep your Google My Business listing and eCommerce stores up-to-date.
  • Centering your focus around FAQs to answer customers queries is vital for v-commerce
  • While framing content, you must write for humans, not for search engines

It’s important to note that optimizing your online business for voice search is not merely a contemporary online marketing trend, rather a new standard. If you aren’t working towards developing you should begin now, or you may be at risk of losing your position in the search game – driven by voice search.

Voice Recognition is continually evolving, and the usage of a voice assistant like Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google is trending. Over-time, it’s going to become more challenging to stay ahead of your competitors in this league.

Current Limitations to vCommerce (as per a PwC Study)

The adoption of voice ordering technology is increasingly becoming popular. Per extensive research findings conducted by PWC on voice assistants, there are several factors that must be worked on from technology initiators in order to thrive.

Lack of Trust

“The assistant can’t answer my questions half the time, but I’m supposed to trust it to help me with something involving money?”
– a female respondent from the PwC study.

Today, the majority of users are practicing voice orders to purchase items that are small and quick. The products that don’t require to be seen physically. Like if you’re ordering groceries, you already know what you’ll get.

However, there persists a fear of mistrust amongst users in regards to payment information. Users do not want to recite credit card details to a virtual assistant. The doubts of potential security vulnerabilities back this lack of trust. From significant privacy breaches to full-on scams, users have reason to be a bit wary.

Not Effective for New Product Category

If your virtual assistant has been linked to past orders from online retail stores, they can be effectively used to reorder those items. But when ordering a new product for the first time, the task can become tedious and complicated.

Research performed by Forrester, Google, Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon, voice assistants were tested with a series of 180 questions. The list of questions was based around product ordering from scratch like “What brands sell liquid laundry detergent?”.

Per study findings, only 35% of questions were answered correctly by voice assistants. You would be astonished to know that Google Assistant performed best, followed by Microsoft’s Cortana, with Apple’s Siri ranking worst.

The Bottom Line

Voice Commerce, though active today, is in its early stages. If you listen to what industry experts say, it’s expected to become the next big thing in the eCommerce world. Virtual assistants are helping us find our products quickly and are being updated regularly in order to deliver quick and convenient shopping experiences.

Currently, voice commerce is only effective for events such as restaurant reservations, takeout food, personal care items, groceries, paying utility bills – all small and simple things we’re familiar with and purchase frequently.

However, purchases that involve more complex decision-making and visual analysis (such as apparels or furniture), the assistance of voice ordering smart devices aren’t nearly as useful.

However, that doesn’t mean you should not be preparing for what’s going to be the future.

There’s a long way to go for voice order to attract the attention of masses. When you analyze how far eCommerce has come and how quickly it consistently evolves, there is every reason to believe the same will happen with the voice ordering movement as well.

It’s always better to prepare in advance for the next frontier. Keeping your strategies aligned to voice ordering is something that must be incorporated now, before your business is behind the current trends of consumers shopping behaviors.

What are your views on voice ordering and its impact on eCommerce sales? Let us know!