Black Friday Shopping
Nov 23, 2021
7 MIN READ

Black Friday Begins a New Season of Voice Shopping

Black Friday is kicking off this year’s holiday shopping season, ushering in weeks of sales and spending as households buy gifts and are drawn to once-a-year deals. This holiday season is predicted to be huge for businesses, too. In fact, the National Retail Federation forecasts that holiday sales during November and December will grow between 8.5% and 10.5% over last year—equalling between $843.4 billion and $859 billion.

While historically, shoppers have lined the sidewalks, waiting for stores to open, more and more are turning to the ease and convenience of e-commerce. This year, eMarketer predicts that the e-commerce industry will reach $933.30 billion, up from 17.9% from last year. Consumers are increasingly drawn to the browsing, filtering, and fast process of online shopping. To make finding and purchasing that special gift even easier and more convenient, more retail brands are incorporating voice shopping into their mobile apps and in-store experiences. 

The growth in voice commerce is creating more opportunities for businesses to improve their holiday shopping experiences. With people busier than ever during the holiday season—traveling, wrapping up the work year, and celebrating—voice AI offers a new level of speed and efficiency with superior filtering and hands-free convenience.

Beyond the voice-enabled app or in-store kiosk, voice commerce opportunities can be part of the voice experience across a variety of devices for brands in industries other than retail. From voice apps and voice-enabled cars to smart home technology and voice-enabled TVs, voice AI can be leveraged to deliver purchasing suggestions and buying opportunities for users when they’re at home or on the go, allowing them to voice shop wherever they are—even while driving. 

How voice AI is changing e-commerce

Voice is changing how we think about shopping, shifting the mindset of what consumers expect their shopping experience to be. First, consumers were accustomed to brick and mortar stores, standing in lines, searching through aisles, and interacting with employees. Next came the wave of e-commerce—24/7 access to shopping with filtering capabilities and more options than a single store could hold. Now, the evolution of the shopping experience has landed us in the age of voice commerce. 

The combination of voice AI technology and e-commerce has opened the door for shopping across devices, as well as new filtering and personalization capabilities. 

The combination of voice AI technology and e-commerce has opened the door for shopping across devices, as well as new filtering and personalization capabilities. 

Each time the shopping experience has evolved, it’s been to meet consumer demands for a faster, more convenient, and accessible experience. With voice shopping, shoppers have the ability to purchase goods and services anytime and anywhere. Through smart home technology, such as voice-enabled appliances, consumers could potentially reorder essentials hands-free without having to access a phone or laptop. 

People can also now shop while driving, a multi-tasking feat that wasn’t possible a decade ago. In fact, according to a report by Voicebot.ai, 45% of users currently use their in-car voice assistant to shop—a number predicted to increase to 72% by 2024. Voice-enabled kiosks also allow customers to look up vital product information or shop without having to touch any screens, a necessity during a pandemic as businesses prioritize hygiene and touchless interactions through voice AI

45% of users currently use their in-car voice assistant to shop—a number predicted to increase to 72% by 2024.

Voicebot.ai

It’s not hard to understand the interest in voice shopping. Using a voice interface, consumers are freed from the aggravation of using endless types, swipes, and clicks to navigate complex menus that often don’t return the required result. Using their voice, shoppers can simply ask for what they want conversationally and naturally, reducing frustration, decreasing the amount of time to find what they’re looking for, and increasing the likelihood of a completed transaction.

Voice commerce is also shifting the industry by incorporating personalization into the shopping experience. Users can save specific filters for future use or have the voice assistant give them recommendations based on previous orders. Voice AI is setting the stage for a new era of shopping with functionalities that will transform the user experience. 

The keys to voice shopping

With voice commerce rapidly expanding across industries, many companies are looking to start their own voice AI strategy or roadmap for shopping experiences. Where to start, though? First, it’s important to take the time to design an experience that truly helps and delights your customers. Without proper filtering capabilities, or if users can’t navigate your product offerings, they will quickly abandon the voice assistant. 

key components to a great voice shopping experience to consider: 

  1. A custom, branded wake word
  2. Spoken responses
  3. Immediate user feedback
  4. Customer education

If your voice user interface is specifically for interaction with a screen, such as a mobile app, kiosk, or TV, you’ll also want visual cues, a listening screen, voice to text transcriptions, visual responses, and a processing signal. 

Without proper filtering capabilities, or if users can’t navigate your product offerings, they will quickly abandon the voice assistant. 

The importance of a custom, branded wake word can’t be overstated. It incorporates your branding and messaging into every interaction your users have with the voice assistant, forming deeper connections and lasting impressions. By having an easy-to-pronounce wake word, users will be able to associate the positive experience of using the voice assistant with your brand.

It’s also essential to educate your users on how to use the voice assistant. Brands can teach consumers through notifications, prompts, and reminders about what questions they can ask, how to search, which filters are available, and what unique functions they can use. User education will increase engagement with the voice assistant and open the door for them to use it in ways they didn’t know were possible. 

Monetization and voice shopping

Brands wanting to take their voice commerce experiences to another level may want to consider the power of monetization. Already, retail and entertainment are some of the many industries generating new revenue streams through voice AI technology. Monetization and voice commerce enable companies to prove ROI on their voice assistants while also providing real value to their users. 

Monetization and voice commerce enable companies to prove ROI on their voice assistants while also providing real value to their users. 

Before beginning voice AI monetization, it’s important that companies ensure they have the proper technical infrastructure in place that is capable of handling monetizable moments. Finding an independent voice AI platform provider with the expertise and technology can help to ensure that you have access to the data and content domains you need to implement a monetization strategy.

Many companies, such as Mastercard and Starbucks, are already implementing monetization strategies with success. Retailers looking to differentiate themselves from the competition can consider monetization as a great way to generate revenue and connect with shoppers.

How to create unintrusive voice commerce

The key to successful monetization is unintrusive voice commerce. There’s a reason that companies invented ways to disable pop-up ads—because it created a frustrating user experience. No monetization strategy should reach that point, but instead, create voice ads that are interactive while delighting and providing value to the user. 

5 essential elements of unintrusive voice commerce: 

  1. Integration with the user journey 
  2. Based on user intent
  3. Personalization 
  4. Multilingual
  5. Payment infrastructure

Purchasing opportunities provide the most value to the user when they happen naturally in the context of the conversation. If a user is navigating to a location, asking if they would like to find a parking garage is a natural and useful extension of the voice experience that fulfills the user’s needs. Asking the same question when they’re on their way home would frustrate the user and create a poor experience. 

Purchasing opportunities provide the most value to the user when they happen naturally in the context of the conversation.

Before considering voice ads and personalized suggestions for the user, it’s vital to get consent or have them opt-in to the service. Early practices of voice assistants have made many consumers wary of large companies listening in or collecting their data. Having permission to store their phone number or payment options and being transparent about how the data is used will go a long way to gaining user trust. 

Through learning about the evolution of voice commerce, keys to voice shopping, monetization opportunities, and unintrusive voice commerce, brands can elevate their voice shopping capabilities. This holiday, give your consumers the gift of a superior shopping experience. With the shopping season upon us, if you don’t have a voice commerce or monetization strategy in place now, it’s not too early to start planning for next year.

At SoundHound Inc., we have all the tools and expertise needed to create custom voice assistants and a consistent brand voice. Explore our independent voice AI platform at Houndify.com and register for a free account. Want to learn more? Talk to us about how we can help bring your voice strategy to life.

Kristen is a content writer with a passion for storytelling and marketing. When she’s not writing, she’s hiking, reading, and spending time with her nieces and nephew.

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