Voice AI in the e-commerce industry
Aug 19, 2021
7 MIN READ

How Voice AI is Creating a Seismic Shift in E-Commerce

Consumers are increasingly looking for shopping opportunities that are convenient, fast, and accessible, which is why e-commerce has grown exponentially in recent years with a shift away from brick and mortar stores. Many trends have cropped up for e-commerce, but at the top of the list is voice AI. A report by OCC Strategy revealed that U.S. voice shopping revenue will increase to an estimated $40 billion by 2022, showing that consumer demand for hands-free shopping experiences is only growing.

Not only are customers actively demanding and engaging with voice shopping, but businesses are realizing the benefits of increased revenue opportunities and are taking steps to invest in the future of voice commerce. According to a study by Adobe, 91% of businesses are already making significant investments in voice, and 94% plan to increase their investment in the coming year. In the past, brands have looked to Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and customer satisfaction increases to prove the ROI on their voice investments, but the increase in voice commerce promises to provide a more concrete solution.

Voice shopping benefits to consumers are clear—convenience, hands-free access, and the ability to look for items without navigating complex visual menus. As the trend continues, voice shopping is likely to become the industry standard for exceptional user experiences. Besides accessing purchasing opportunities via voice-enabled mobile apps, consumers will soon be able to shop at home and on the go from a variety of locations, including in the car, in front of a TV at home or in a hotel room, through a smart home device, or even through a voice-enabled kiosk inside a store. Advances in voice AI technology and the ubiquity of voice assistants are creating a seismic shift in e-commerce.

Here are three ways voice AI is creating a mindset shift for businesses and consumers:

  1. New voice advertising opportunities for businesses
  2. More opportunities for consumer purchases
  3. The new consumer shopping experience

Voice advertising and revenue sharing for businesses

Consumers spend more when voice shopping than when engaging in traditional e-commerce models. According to Coupon Follow, online shoppers who used a voice assistant spent $136 more on average than those who shopped solely online. Whether this is because they found what they were looking for easier, were suggested a relevant product, or had a better user experience is unknown, but the results of increased spending speak for themselves. 

Online shoppers who used voice spent $136 more on average than those who shopped solely online.

Coupon Follow

Besides providing consumers with an easier, more convenient way to make purchases, voice assistants in devices, such as a car or TV, open the door for real revenue generation for companies of all types. Proactive or responsive purchasing suggestions that are a natural part of the conversational exchange between users and the voice assistant present enormous opportunities for revenue sharing between the hardware manufacturer and the service or product purchased as a result. 

By presenting consumers with unintrusive voice purchasing suggestions, brands have the opportunity to provide real value to users through monetizable moments that align with their interests without intruding on the voice experience. When users are presented with suggestions that are helpful, quick, convenient, and efficient, they are more likely to respond with purchases, making voice commerce an appealing revenue opportunity for businesses looking to prove the ROI on their voice investment and those seeking additional sales channels.

Brands have the opportunity to provide real value to users through monetizable moments that align with their interests without intruding on the voice experience.

While traditional advertising can be perceived as interfering with the voice user experience, suggestion-based purchasing opportunities are integrated into the exchange as responses to the questions users are already asking. In addition, interactive voice ads that delight and engage users are a growing opportunity for businesses hoping to tap into the expanding voice assistant marketplace. If the voice ad is entertaining, humorous, or from a recognized brand, then customers will engage with it even more—as evidenced by the success of Pandora’s interactive voice advertising efforts.

Extending the voice shopping experience beyond the mobile app

The proliferation of voice assistants has created a shift in consumer behavior, making voice interfaces an expected mode of shopping. In response, retailers are looking to expand their voice strategies to include omnichannel experiences that reach more customers on more channels.

Voice commerce is already expanding across a variety of devices to serve consumers in locations and times most convenient for them. No longer constrained to a brick-and-mortar store, voice AI opens e-commerce to many more channels and touchpoints for consumers to shop. A majority of consumers are already actively engaging in voice shopping. According to a report by Capgemini, 74% of consumers have used a voice assistant to research and buy products and services, create a shopping list, and check an order status. 

74% of consumers have used a voice assistant to research and buy products and services, create a shopping list, and check an order status.

Capgemini

Omnichannel retail voice commerce strategies include expanding purchasing opportunities to a variety of voice-enabled devices, including: 

  • Mobile apps
  • Cars
  • Smart home devices
  • Kiosks

Mobile apps are the low-hanging fruit of voice-enabled devices as they already come equipped with the hardware required for a voice experience. No additional equipment needs to be built for it, which helps bridge the gap between cost and return on investment. They are also widely implemented, with Forbes estimating a total of 8.9 million mobile apps in existence. Therefore, mobile apps are a natural starting point for many companies looking to expand their e-commerce with voice AI capabilities. 

Cars with voice assistants are also rapidly outpacing non-voice-enabled models, with Voicebot.ai reporting that 73% of cars will have voice assistants by 2022. More and more users are shopping from their car, with the same report detailing that 45% of users currently use their in-car voice assistant to shop, with that number expected to increase to 72% by 2024. With drivers spending more time behind the wheel every year, it’s vital that brands take advantage of where their customers are spending so much of their day by giving them the opportunity to shop hands-free. 

45% of users currently use their in-car voice assistant to shop, with that number expected to increase to 72% by 2024.

Voicebot.ai

Smart home devices, such as a TV, are becoming increasingly popular in both homes and hotel rooms. TVs have evolved from simply playing shows and movies to being a central hub for communicating with a voice assistant. They are usually in a room that people spend a majority of their time in and present another opportunity for brands to engage in voice commerce. 

Voice-enabled kiosks can also provide value in-store by helping customers look up the location, price, or any other vital information about an item. They also provide a level of comfort and reassurance to the customer by providing a contactless shopping experience. For employees, voice-enabled kiosks can provide up-to-date inventory information, making it easier for them to give customers the information they need to know quickly and efficiently. 

Mobile apps, cars, smart home devices, and kiosks all provide consumers with opportunities to dip into voice shopping whether they are at home, at work, in a hotel, in-store, or behind the wheel. Voice AI is changing how and where customers shop and expanding opportunities beyond the traditional in-store or website options to convenient locations that are increasing in the voice commerce space. 

How voice is changing how we think about shopping

Voice AI is changing the e-commerce space in more ways than how and where customers shop, but also in the very way they think about shopping. According to a survey of over 1,000 consumers by Coupon Follow, the most popular voice-command shopping activities are browsing for new products, creating shopping lists, searching for product reviews, and purchasing products. All of these activities are faster, more efficient, personalized, and hands-free with voice-shopping, shifting the mindset of what consumers can expect their experience to be. 

The most popular voice-command shopping activities are browsing for new products, creating shopping lists, searching for product reviews, and purchasing products.

Coupon Follow

Instead of having to click many filter preferences only to receive a list of unrelated suggestions and buried products, users can simply ask conversationally and naturally, “Find me women’s rain jackets that are size medium, under $100, have at least a 4-star rating and a hood.” Interacting with a voice assistant saves time and reduces frustration for the customer, creating an excellent user experience. 

Voice shopping also has the ability to provide users with something beyond what ordinary e-commerce can provide, personalization. Personalized buying experiences are rising in interest amongst consumers. According to Statista, 90% of U.S. consumers find personalized marketing content somewhat to very appealing. Voice AI can provide personalized shopping experiences by saving past order histories—making reordering a quick, easy experience. Voice assistants can also set specific preferences as filters and provide recommendations based on past order histories.

90% of U.S. consumers find personalized marketing content somewhat to very appealing.

Statista

Voice AI is changing how customers think about e-commerce by not requiring them to engage in a series of types and swipes or spend time and energy scrolling through unrelated products. Brands looking to improve their customer experience can look to voice shopping as a way to provide consumers with quick, convenient, personalized, and hands-free shopping. 

From increased spending to monetizable moments, businesses are receiving an increase in revenue through voice commerce. Mobile apps, cars, smart home devices, and kiosks are expanding the locations from which a customer can shop via voice. Quicker, more efficient, and personalized voice commerce experiences are also shifting the way consumers think about shopping. Brands looking to provide exceptional user experiences, meet their customers where they are, and increase their revenue, should consider adding monetization to their voice AI strategies before they are outpaced by voice-enabled competitors. 

Recently, we gathered thought leaders from a variety of industries to discuss “The New Age of Voice Commerce”. Watch the webinar on-demand now to hear what they have to say about the potential of voice AI to generate real revenue. To take a deeper dive into why and how innovative monetization opportunities work for companies across industries, read our newest guide, “Voice Assistants Evolve to Become Revenue Generators”.

At SoundHound Inc., we have all the tools and expertise needed to create custom voice assistants and a consistent brand voice. Explore Houndify’s 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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