With home assistants such as Alexa and Google Home becoming part of daily life for many people, and 112 million people in the US talking to voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri or Samsung’s Bixby every month, the scene is set for voice ordering as a shopping method. Customers who are already using this approach cite the fact it’s hands-free, can be done while doing other things and faster than other methods of ordering online.
Nearly half of consumers who use voice technology are already using it to research products and compile shopping lists – that’s according to Adobe Digital Insights.
The voice trend is particularly popular with the over 55’s, who are showing higher rates of adoption of voice technology. Uptake of smart speakers trebled annually in the 55-75 age group. Voice technology isn’t always used by people that have access to it, yet the over 45 age group is 90% likely to use it if they own it.
There could be several reasons for the popularity of voice technology with this age group. The fact there’s no need to find reading glasses or navigate via typing on small mobile keyboards may be particularly popular with this age group. It’s also possible they are spending longer in the home in proximity to a home hub.
Voice is particularly popular in the APAC region and probably for one very good reason – the Chinese language is hard to type and much easier to speak. The difficulties of remembering and typing all those characters are probably why voice tech is most popular in these parts of the world.
Voice search is generally much faster than typing and often more accurate for complex character-driven languages such as Mandarin or Cantonese.
Expanding the scope of the web
Voice is growing so fast that Gartner has estimated that by next year up to 30% of web browsing will be screenless and voice-enabled. The researchers make the point that this trend expands the scope of the web in our daily lives, enabling it to extend further into everyday activities such as driving or cooking.
There are of course barriers to voice-enabled eCommerce. If you’re ordering from somewhere for the first time, speaking the card details aloud may be a hassle. If you’re using a mobile voice assistant in a public place, it’s also a security risk.
There’s evidence that users are aware of security and privacy risks and taking steps on these issues. A survey by GlobalWebIndex found that the majority of users had used private browsing in the last month, and users commonly deleted cookies and used ad blockers. Concerns about security could be a barrier to further uptake of voice eCommerce.
Nevertheless, voice-empowered online shopping is now a rising trend in eCommerce and one that could be hugely influential. Just when retailers thought they’d got the hang of search behavior, voice-driven eCommerce search stands to change the way people discover products online.
And just when brands thought they’d mastered the mobile experience, the need for a specific user experience for voice customers emerges.
Some brands have opted to create their own voice experiences to guide users through an interaction. Domino’s offers a voice-ordering system for its pizzas, which guides the customer through their order using an assistant. That kind of crafted experience is valuable when you’re dealing with a purchase where the customer has an element of consideration.
That includes choosing a personalized product or one with a range of options. Brands are challenged to create an experience that fits well their both their brand image and the product itself.
Starbucks has been experimenting with voice ordering around the world and last year rolled out a new voice recognition system for customers ordering in South Korea.
Adapting your voice experience to suit local tastes is absolutely vital; Korean society tends to be fairly formal and polite so any voice interactive ordering system needs to reflect this, particularly if it’s designed to reflect a real human-to-human order as Starbucks intends.
Starbucks wouldn’t be successful in merely translating its English-language voice ordering apps into Korean – it’s necessary to consider the specific cultural background the customer comes from as well as just translating the words.
Creating a tailored voice experience is just one way brands can personalize the customer’s voice interaction with them via a device such as Siri or Bixby. Some brands opt to have a branded chime, sometimes known as an audio logo. Brands already use these on radio and TV adverts so it’s no great stretch to include them in their voice branding.
Other brands take it a step further and have voice mascots to guide customers through their voice interaction – but be wary of this. Many Marks and Spencer customers were horrified and irritated by the temporary use of TV presenters Ant and Dec to guide them through the automated checkouts.
But getting involved with voice doesn’t have to be as complex as crafting a personalized voice interaction for your customers. It can also be as simple as making sure your local business features in voice-driven search results.
Voice search is a strong and growing trend and customers are actively using it to find products and local businesses. A good search strategy should make sure your brand content is featured when customers use voice to search for products and services.