Voice shopping is gaining ground: 4 retail tipps

Technologies which were the stuff of science fiction movies only 40 or 50 years ago are now everyday commonplace! The technological advancement changes our habits. Among all these technologies though, one area which is likely to cause huge disruptive change has been comparatively under reported within the trade. That area is speech recognition.

Breakthrough in speech recognition technology 

Speech recognition technology had been frustration tolerance training rather than a success story for a long time. In fact, there are several banks who insist on having you shout at the phone with simple words like yes or no several times just to make progress and check your account balance or make a simple query! 

The good news in terms of user experience is that technology has advanced considerably in the last five years or so, largely due to investment from global tech behemoths like Amazon & Google. We’re now in a situation where speech activated assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, heard through their Echo & Dot smart speakers, are consistently delivering to consumer expectations without the same frustration factor. This means we are heading into a new explosive growth era for this technology. The implications of these advancements are huge, in fact, they are bigger than huge!

Speech technology is revolutionizing retail

Voice commerce sales already accounts for $1.8bn sales in the USA and ca. $200m in the UK. This includes retail sales triggered by voice ordering via various software, services and hardware. These figures in themselves are already impressive, especially for the USA, but the projections are even more impressive: In March 2018 the OC&C Strategy Consultants published a survey for 2022. 

By then the USA is forecast to hit $40bn retail sales via voice commerce, with the UK tipped to top $5bn by the same date. 

4 steps to embrace the change

1. Introduce new speech technologies to your consumers touch points immediately

Retailers need to embrace this change – many retailers took too long (as much as 5-10 years in some cases) to get serious about e-commerce. In this case Amazon and others have taken the lunch of other retailers who buried their heads. Practically speaking the voice commerce revolution is going to further grow market share for Amazon above all, as they have the market leading and dominant software and hardware. So, if you thought Amazon in e-commerce form was a threat, there will be a significant part of the consumer products market which will be primarily purchased via them due to the captive audience inherent in their devices capturing the market.

2. You are the trainer for your customer’s new shopping habits

Human beings are primarily creatures of habit – creating a particular shopping habit in the first instance is the challenge, when it is 2nd nature, human beings will tend to automatically repeat the same purchase path. This habit is currently being formed in ever increasing scale, so if any retailers out there are going to respond aggressively now is the time before hundreds of millions of habits form!

3. Offer special products in your range of products

In many cases voice will not be as effective or as popular as a visual Voice commerce will lend itself most to repeat purchase of functional low value items where price comparisons are less important and the same item is needed continuously e.g. paper, printer cartridges.

4. Offer a unique shopping experience

As ever, those physical ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers who are not able to capitalise directly on voice commerce will usually benefit from their fundamental competitive advantages versus ‘virtual’ retail: Product knowledge combined with customer service and in store experience.

The point is this – at some point in time over the last generation as we have been hit with wave after wave of technological innovations we have not always maximised the effect of the advantages physical retail can have. Retail is a hard business, so the importance of finding a counter advantage is critical. 

About the author

Steve Reece, CEO Kids Brand Insight, is a consultant for brand and product management and with many years’ experience in consumer goods industry and expertise in the global toy, game and kids entertainment industry.

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Zu „Voice Commerce“ erstellten die KPMG AG Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft und das Kölner Institut für Handelsforschung 2018 ein Consumer Barometer. Die online Befragung von 500 Konsumenten verdeutlicht das wirtschaftliche Potenzial, das für den Handel in Voice Commerce steckt.