Why type when you can talk? The emergence of voice assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa presents an opportunity for ecommerce businesses. You can now call up your digital assistant and ask it to find and purchase an item—without ever lifting a finger.
Nearly half of all shoppers in the US list ease of use as their primary motive for using voice shopping technology. And despite the upfront costs, online retailers are increasingly embracing voice shopping to boost sales and increase customer engagement.
Here’s how to leverage voice shopping and reap the benefits of this advancing technology for your business.
What is voice shopping?
Voice shopping is the use of voice recognition technology to purchase products online. It’s a type of voice commerce where a customer uses verbal commands to interact with digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon’s Alexa. Voice shopping relies on smartphones or smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo or Google Home. These devices use voice recognition technology to interpret verbal requests and perform online shopping tasks.
From a customer’s perspective, voice shopping can be as easy as activating the voice assistant with a wake word, like “Hey Siri,” “Hey Alexa,” or “Hey Google,” then asking about specific products or categories. Voice shopping can enhance the immediacy and convenience of shopping at home, especially for routine purchases and reorders where the customer doesn’t have to do research on a product before purchasing.
Many online retailers now have interfaces that allow for streamlined voice browsing, confirmation of the buyer’s identity, and checkout.
An example of voice shopping
Say you’re at home washing the dishes and you remember you need to buy some new workout shoes. Since your hands are wet, you might ask your Google Assistant to “Find me the best deal on running shoes.” The assistant can provide recommendations or ask follow-up questions to refine the search, like asking about brand preferences or specific features.
Once you choose a pair of shoes, the assistant adds them to a virtual cart until you ask it to finalize your purchase. After confirming your payment method and delivery address (which can be preset in your account settings), the voice assistant confirms your purchase and may provide details like expected delivery time.
Benefits of voice shopping
Voice shopping provides several benefits for ecommerce brands and retailers, including:
Speed is one of the biggest upsides of the voice shoppingcustomer experience. A simple command to a voice assistant can bring up a list of relevant products, and within moments, the customer can finalize a purchase. Most voice assistants allow customers to store their credit card and shipping information in their account for a seamless checkout flow.
Many consumers already have the necessary technology to make voice shopping purchases in their pockets: Most smartphones have built-in voice recognition technology. This means voice assistant users can browse and buy items from home, work, or even during commutes. You can simplify the checkout experience for returning shoppers by using saved customer data.
With voice shopping, it’s possible to utilize voice search optimization. By using natural language and long-tail keywords (longer, more specific phrases) in your web and mobile platforms, you can boost your brand’s SEO rankings in common voice shopping queries, which can lead to greater brand visibility and increased sales.
Challenges of voice shopping
Despite its advantages, voice shopping is a technology that can pose challenges for ecommerce retailers, including:
Voice shopping involves costs for retailers. An online store needs access to AI ecommerce technology that can handle natural language processing and a web platform that can facilitate streamlined, secure voice purchases.
Security and privacy concerns
Potential customers might hesitate to adopt voice commerce due to concerns about making purchases verbally. It can take a level of trust for shoppers to share their financial information—and potentially, unique voice print—when interfacing with an online retailer.
One study found that 31% of US voice shoppers reported general privacy concerns regarding voice shopping, and 27% of online buyers expressed negativity over the security of their financial data. Keeping up with current privacy regulations and taking measures to secure personal data can help build customer trust.
For voice shopping to work optimally, the technology on both ends has to understand complex voice commands or ensure accurate product matches. Currently, language comprehension and voice-recognition technology isn’t perfect. Voice recognition software may misunderstand or be unable to decipher a command. If a consumer makes a request misunderstood by their digital assistant, they won’t get the information or product they want, which could lead to frustration and lack of future usage.
The future of voice shopping
Voice shopping sales are on an upward trend and expected to grow in popularity. In 2021, nearly 60% of online consumers used voice assistant technology daily or weekly, and the global value of transactions using voice technology was $4.6 billion. The total value of voice-assisted purchases is projected to rise to $164 billion by 2025.
Voice shopping FAQ
How can you optimize your Shopify store for voice search?
You can optimize your Shopify store for voice search by using a website grader to assess site performance and ensure a fast site speed, writing product descriptions in natural language, and following general SEO tips to ensure that your site ranks high in search engines and is easy for voice assistants to find.
What is an example of voice commerce?
Imagine picking up your remote and finding that the batteries are dead. You call up the voice assistant on your smartphone and instruct it to purchase a pack of triple-A batteries. It confirms picking the right product and then quickly completes the checkout process. Presto, your purchase is complete.
What retailers are using voice commerce?
Early adopters of voice commerce tend to be large businesses such as Amazon, Walmart, and Starbucks.
Is voice shopping the future of the shopping experience?
Future projections indicate that voice shopping likely will be a major component of the online shopping experience. It’s uncertain whether voice shopping will gain a larger market share than traditional forms of shopping, such as in-person retail.