Voice-enabled tech is creating a new communications channel for retailers and customers. It’s the most personal experience a customer can have—they’re talking to, not typing on a computer, and receiving quick, intelligent responses.
While the adoption of voice-enabled tech continues to grow and the ways in which it’s used continue to evolve, there’s a broader opportunity to discuss how consumers will use this technology to find and engage with brands and products. Seventeen per cent of Canadians we surveyed are already using smart home voice assistants to make purchases.
In terms of making shopping a “frictionless experience”, voice payment is now being developed to replace the physical exchange of money and checkout lanes. According to Juniper Research, Internet of things payments, which include voice payments, will grow 75% a year globally, from US$24.5 billion in 2018 to US$410 billion in 2023. Based on this trend, it’s important for retailers to start thinking about conversational interfaces.
Consumers today told us smart home entertainment and appliances lead the way for smart tech, in current ownership and planned purchases; especially among ages 25–34, but the popularity of voice-enabled tech like assistants is on the rise. With wearables following closely behind, and still on consumers shopping lists.
Digital voice assistants powered by artificial intelligence (AI) contribute to a frictionless purchase journey, in addition to other measures previously mentioned like mobile payments. As shopping by voice becomes more the norm, companies should be thinking beyond mobile to consider how voice technology in homes, cars and elsewhere will affect the customer experience.
Creating greater intelligence and insights: retailers need to start tapping into rich voice data information, as it adds context to customer interactions. Consumers’ smart speakers and AI assistants like Apple’s HomePod and Amazon’s Alexa know what songs the customer played, when they order groceries, if they go to the gym every morning, when they pick up their kids from school and much more.
Driving personalization: by tapping into this data, retailers will be able to improve their relationships and interactions with customers. They’ll be able to do this by suggesting a new product for their grocery order while the consumer is shopping or by directing customers to buy a dress for a friend’s upcoming wedding. Or in health care, patients can receive reminders to take their medications. Customers are willing to share their data, but only if they perceive they are getting something of equal value in return.
Changing retail marketing: how customers interact with products may also change as a result of voice. Once customers become even more comfortable using AI assistants, retail marketing will be affected. Retailers’ tactics on how they win over customers will need to evolve. For example, if an AI assistant suggests a competitor’s product, how can the marketer control whether AI reprioritizes the suggestion, so their product is recommended instead?