Is It Time to Take Voice Commerce Seriously? | Marketing Maestros | Blogs | ANA

Is It Time to Take Voice Commerce Seriously?

September 30, 2019

By Robb Powell

Andrey Suslov/

Consumers are increasingly relying on home digital assistants to provide hands-free access to everything and anything available online. From browsing to streaming, requesting and purchasing, consumers are embracing voice commerce.

Though still in its infancy, voice shopping is already influencing the way consumers behave.

Here are four reasons v-commerce has the potential to revolutionize the way consumer goods companies go to market, as outlined in Advantage Digital Technology’s Emerging Channels: Voice Commerce report.


1. Consumers Are Embracing Voice Technology

Smart speakers are trending. More than one-fifth of Americans 18 and older — some 53 million people — own a smart speaker, according to the Smart Audio Report June 2019. There were 14 million new smart speaker owners in 2018 alone, thanks in part to heavy holiday gifting.

Mobile voice technology is popular, too. Close to half of U.S. adults use their smartphone’s voice assistant, according to Pew Research.


2. Voice Technology Is Already Influencing Shoppers

Shoppers are increasingly using voice technology for simple tasks, such as product discovery, that ultimately influence purchase decisions. Shopping research is the third-most-popular use for smart speakers, behind audio listening (79 percent) and inquiries, excluding weather, news and traffic (73 percent), according to eMarketer. Four in 10 smart speaker owners use them for shopping research and 37 percent use them to shop.

This year, 31 million people in the U.S. will browse and research products, add items to carts or make a purchase via a smart speaker, up 31.6 percent from last year. By 2021, this figure is expected to climb to 38 million.


3. Consumers Are Starting to Trust Voice Commerce

Today, v-commerce shoppers are most likely to use their devices for product replenishment — a low confidence hurdle — after buying the product online previously and having a good experience.

Still, privacy and data security are often cited as obstacles to technology that offers consumers greater convenience. Smart speaker makers, brands and retailers who want to reach consumers through voice technology need to address security concerns and safeguard the data they collect and store.

Microsoft, for example, is working to increase voice adoption in public spaces. “Silent voice input” would enable users to whisper voice commands, encouraging more use of voice technology outside the home or car.

When the benefits of technology outweigh the potential risks, and when the provider consistently demonstrates an unwavering commitment to protecting their data, consumers will buy in.


4. The Potential to Boost Business Is Enormous

If brands and retailers focus v-commerce development dollars on leveraging the moments that link products to shoppers, the opportunity could be limitless. Think about this example, which Advantage Solutions’ EVP of analytics, insights, and information Lori Stillman shares: A customer asks Alexa, “Where is the closest pizza parlor?” and Alexa responds, “Target has Newman’s Own Thin & Crispy pizzas on sale for $5 and can deliver via Shipt in one hour. If you order two, you can add a 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola products for 1 cent.”

Or, consider how Nike supplemented traditional television and product sponsorship tactics with a voice campaign earlier this year. Before the February launch of the Nike Adapt BB basketball shoe, Nike collaborated with Google Assistant, R/GA and RAIN to create an exclusive sneaker drop campaign, including voice-activated sales during a televised NBA game.

To generate hype, Nike leveraged Google Assistant to allow consumers to “Ask Google” for details about the shoe. Responses were video recorded by basketball stars. During half time of the February 7 broadcast of the L.A. Lakers vs. Boston Celtics game on TNT, viewers were prompted to “Ask Nike” via Google Assistant for the opportunity to buy the Nike Adapt BB ahead of its release date and a chance at a free pair of sneakers.

The result: More than 15,000 viewers asked Nike for the shoes during the basketball game, outstripping the number of shoes available. The pre-release inventory sold out in six minutes.

Consumer goods companies and retailers, especially those with brands already trusted by consumers, who enhance traditional campaigns by leveraging voice commerce to add value or offer greater convenience will win over voice-curious shoppers.

Now’s the time to explore the capabilities needed to facilitate v-commerce across every platform and device.

Robb Powell is president of e-commerce services at Advantage Digital Technology for Advantage Solutions.

The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

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