May 19, 2022
5 MIN READ

Why Brands are Buying into Voice Commerce for the Future of Voice Assistants

Customized, branded voice assistants are already delivering ROI to those companies that have implemented them as interfaces to their products, apps, and services. These brands have realized the business value of the improved customer experiences, efficiencies, and brand loyalty that result from the implementation of branded voice assistants in their products. The voice-first era is quickly evolving, and early adopters, such as the automotive industry and manufacturers of TVs and other home devices, are seeking more ways to enter the world of voice commerce. As their Net Promoter and Customer Satisfaction scores grow, they are seeking opportunities to expand their voice assistants beyond a user interface into a channel for real revenue. 

According to Voicebot.ai, voice shopping is on the rise with 20.5 million U.S. adults using voice to shop in 2018 and 45.2 million in 2021, reflecting a 120% growth. Users are finding ease, convenience, and speed by using just their voice to make purchases, and companies are capitalizing on the opportunity to provide suggestions that deliver value. 

The goal is clear for many companies, with an Opus Research Report revealing that 53% of companies plan to invest in voice ads and voice-enabled shopping. However, the challenge remains: how to leverage the potential of voice AI while still meeting user expectations for a frictionless experience. 

In some cases, conversational AI evangelists within the company must first convince other key stakeholders of the importance of a wholly-owned voice assistant. In other cases, brands need a roadmap from voice assistant implementation to monetization. For that, they need an expert partner with the technology and the infrastructure to deliver on both promises: frictionless user experiences and real revenue opportunities. Regardless of where you are in the process, you likely have some questions about the future of voice commerce. 

Here are 3 of the most frequently asked questions we get about the future of voice commerce:

  • How is voice AI shifting e-commerce? 
  • Which industries are poised to generate revenue from voice assistants? 
  • How do you create unintrusive voice commerce? 

How is voice AI shifting e-commerce?

Voice ordering has the advantage of delivering exceptional user experiences, convenience, hands-free access, and the ability to ask for what you want without navigating complex visual menus. The desire for voice commerce opportunities is capturing the imagination of device manufacturers and mobile app developers as the newest user interface for people on-the-go and for those who want more hands-free functionality at home. In-car voice assistants, voice-enabled smart TVs, smart home devices, and in-store kiosks are part of the rapid growth of how voice AI is shifting e-commerce

Voice is changing how we interact with the world around us. Common activities, such as browsing for new products, creating shopping lists, searching for product reviews, and purchasing products, are faster, more efficient, and personalized through hands-free experiences. Voice shopping has superior filtering capabilities, so a search that would normally take many types and swipes only to reveal a list of unrelated suggestions can be quickly and easily navigated through a voice assistant. 

A search that would normally take many types and swipes only to reveal a list of unrelated suggestions can be quickly and easily navigated through a voice assistant. 

Voice ordering also offers brands more opportunities for user personalization—if and when the user opts in. The voice assistant can save past order histories for fast reordering, save filters and preferences, and make suggestions based on previous orders. This feature gives users a sense of individuality and convenience as the experience can be tailored to their preferences and eliminates the need to repeat information every time. By shifting how we think about e-commerce, voice assistants can open the door for a future of possibilities that will take the user experience to the next level while delivering a level of ROI previously unattainable.

Which industries are poised to generate revenue from voice assistants?

While monetization opportunities will be available for any company with a customized, branded voice assistant built on an independent platform, there are currently a few key industries already on the cusp of generating revenue from voice assistants. As with any new technology, companies across industries find themselves in various stages of adoption, and voice assistants are no different. Some may be just starting to realize the benefits while others are already working on creating an omnichannel experience. While the latest adopters may not be ready to jump into the voice commerce experiences in nascent stages, there are companies in several key industries with mature voice experiences that are nearly ready to launch voice commerce experiences to their users.

Based on our experiences and research, we have identified 3 key industries on the cusp on monetization:

  • Automotive
  • Media
  • Retail/Restaurants

Automotive

Automotive is one of the earliest adopters of voice assistants, with OEMs actively seeking out voice AI to create the kinds of driving experiences that consumers wanted and in-car safety demanded. As consumers’ perception of value shifted from horsepower and engine performance to comfort, convenience and pleasant in-car driving experiences, automotive OEMs responded by designing connected cars with state-of-the-art infotainment systems and marketing them as differentiators. A key element of these systems is the voice assistant. 

For those car brands that had the vision to create wholly-owned voice assistants, their infotainment systems are now creating a platform for monetization. From ordering food in-car to prepaying for parking, gas, or charging stations, the possibilities for monetizable moments are promising to simultaneously provide personalized and convenient services for their customers while generating real revenue for the OEMs.

Major car OEMs, such as Hyundai, are already envisioning a future where drivers can order and pay for food, gas, and parking by voice through partnerships and revenue sharing with the businesses that provide those services and products. 

Media

TV manufacturers, such as VIZIO, with their conversational AI remotes, have been quick to jump aboard the voice AI train. With TV’s complex catalogs of entertainment and the tiny buttons on a remote that make searching difficult, voice AI succeeds in creating an exceptional user experience by giving consumers hands-free access. The nature of entertainment is also an ideal gateway into the world of monetization, where users will naturally want add-ons to their viewing or listening experience, such as ordering food or other services and goods.

There is also the realm of mobile app-based media experiences, for example, Pandora’s streaming service on their mobile app. Unintrusive voice ads excel in this setting where proactive suggestions are made based on what the user is already searching for and interactive qualities delight and entertain users. 

Retail 

The boom of e-commerce and the decrease of visits to brick and mortar stores due to the pandemic has uniquely positioned retail to benefit from voice commerce opportunities. Already, retailers have seen success with voice-enabled mobile apps that give customers advanced filtering capabilities and personalized suggestions. 

Adding voice-enabled kiosks and warehousing solutions is a natural next step for retailers who are beginning to realize the power of voice AI to create greater efficiencies, solve staffing challenges, and impact the bottom line with more ways for consumers to shop anywhere and anytime. 

In the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) and fast-casual dining industry, top-tier companies, such as Mastercard and Square, are designing and developing AI-powered solutions for their customers—bringing the convenience, efficiencies, and sales opportunities of voice assistants to small and medium businesses who may not be able to implement them on their own.

In the near future, there will likely be many opportunities for manufacturers to partner with providers of goods and services to offer food ordering or other buying opportunities as part of the voice experience and then share in the revenue streams created by these new avenues of commerce. 

As the early adopters continue to expand their voice-enabled devices and take on new voice AI capabilities, other industries will begin to evaluate the benefits of conversational AI. It won’t be long before industries across the board are considering monetization as an effective and a way to add value and generate revenue. 

The imperative to create unintrusive voice commerce 

For any business considering adding voice commerce opportunities to their custom, branded voice assistant, the user experience must be the highest priority. The ads and buying options cannot interfere with the voice experience. Instead, it should enhance it by providing a service that’s helpful and convenient. Unintrusive voice commerce opportunities that deliver delight should occur within the user journey, be based on user intent, and offer personalization with customer consent. 

Purchasing suggestions should happen naturally in the conversation and not pull the user out of the interaction with awkward and poorly-placed ads. A well-timed and incorporated suggestion based on user intent can delight the user by making them feel like the voice assistant knows exactly what they need.

Purchasing suggestions should happen naturally in the conversation and not pull the user out of the interaction with awkward and poorly-placed ads. 

Personalization is a wonderful tool, but with great power comes great responsibility. Brands should always strive to be transparent about their data collection policies and allow users to opt in to data collection for their personalized experiences. By asking for consent, users will build trust and loyalty with the brand. 

By examining how voice AI is shifting e-commerce, what industries are poised to generate revenue from voice assistants, and how to create unintrusive voice commerce, brands looking to invest in the future of monetizable moments get a clear picture of the benefits and advantages of voice commerce. With the age of monetization rapidly approaching, companies not already developing the technology may see themselves left behind their revenue-generating competitors. 

At SoundHound, we have all the tools and expertise needed to create custom voice assistants and a consistent brand voice. Explore SoundHound’s independent voice AI platform at SoundHound.com and register for a free account here. 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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