Voice Commerce: The Next Frontier in Digital Shopping

Imagine whipping up a recipe in the kitchen and simply saying, “Hey, assistant, add a carton of eggs and a quart of milk to my cart.” Or, while driving home from work, asking, “Can you reorder my favourite food?” – and that simple digital shopping is!

The landscape of shopping is ever-evolving. From the beginnings of desktop e-commerce to the explosion of mobile applications, the way we browse and purchase online has been reshaped and restyled. Added to the list, voice commerce is making waves as the new frontier in digital shopping. 

Voice commerce, typically known as conversational commerce, allows consumers to use their voice to interact with virtual assistants and shop online. This technology is powered by the growing popularity of smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePad, all equipped with high-end voice recognition software. As these devices become more omnipresent in our homes and on the go, voice commerce is poised to transform how we shop. 

Amazon reported in a May 2023 press release that over 500 million Alexas had been sold since the voice assistant device’s general debut in June 2015. According to Rohit Prasad, Senior Vice President and Head Scientist for Alexa, “People don’t realise how much shopping happens through Alexa.” Over 50% of our clients have used Alexa to find a shopping attraction, and the number of shopping attractions is expanding 40% year over year. 

The Rise of the Voice Assistant

When you talk about voice commerce, you’re really talking about digital commerce with natural language processing from voice to text. It starts with taking your voice, translating it to text, running that through natural language processing, and then running the outputs through digital commerce.

Consumers are increasingly busy and strapped for time. Voice assistants offer a hands-free, intuitive way to shop, freeing up our eyes and hands for other tasks. This is particularly appealing for activities like cooking, cleaning, or exercising, where using a traditional keyboard or touchscreen might be inconvenient. This rise of the voice assistant is a significant driver behind the rise of voice commerce.

Benefits of Voice Commerce for Businesses

For businesses, voice commerce presents a new and exciting opportunity to reach customers. Here are some key benefits:

  • Increased Convenience: Voice commerce offers a frictionless purchasing experience, making it easier for customers to make transactions. This can result in improved conversion rates and increased sales. 
  • Improved Accessibility: Voice commerce provides opportunities for those struggling with standard online purchase methods, allowing companies to reach a larger clientele. 
  • Personalised Shopping: With time, voice assistants can learn about users’ preferences and provide product recommendations based on browsing and past purchases. This personalisation can result in a more satisfying buying experience and potentially improved consumer loyalty. 
  • Valuable Data Insights: Voice assistants gather vital information about customer preferences and purchasing behaviour. Businesses can use this data to improve product offers, personalise marketing campaigns, and fine-tune their overall consumer experience. 

Challenges and Considerations

While voice commerce offers a wealth of benefits, there are also some challenges to consider:

  • Accuracy of Voice Recognition: Voice recognition technology, though constantly improving, can still be prone to errors. Misinterpretations of commands could lead to incorrect orders or frustration for the customer.
  • Security Concerns: Security is paramount for online shopping, and voice commerce raises new questions.
  • Limited Product Discovery: Voice commerce is better suited for reordering familiar products or simple searches. Discovering new items or browsing a wide selection can be more challenging through voice alone.
  • Product Differentiation: With limited voice interaction, it can be difficult for brands to differentiate themselves from competitors. Businesses must find ways to leverage their unique selling propositions through voice interactions.

Optimising for Voice Commerce

Despite the challenges, businesses can take steps to prepare for the rise of voice commerce:

  • Focus on Long-Tail Keywords: Since voice searches tend to be more conversational, optimising content for long-tail keywords that reflect natural speech patterns is crucial.
  • Prioritise Product Information: Ensure product descriptions are clear, concise, and optimised for voice search. Highlight key features and benefits that users might ask about verbally.
  • Build Trust and Brand Awareness: Customers need to feel confident purchasing through voice. Building a solid brand reputation and establishing trust through consistent messaging across all channels will be necessary.
  • Invest in Voice Search Optimisation Tools: Several tools and platforms are emerging to help businesses optimise their websites and content for voice search.

The Future of Voice Commerce

Voice commerce is still in its early stages, but its potential is undeniable. As voice recognition technology improves and smart speaker adoption increases, we can expect voice commerce to become a mainstream shopping channel. Businesses that embrace this technology early and adapt their strategies accordingly will be well-positioned to thrive in the ever-evolving digital shopping landscape.

Voice commerce can fundamentally change how we interact with brands and make purchases online by offering a convenient, personalised, and accessible shopping experience. The future of digital shopping is undoubtedly shaped by voice, and businesses that listen closely will reap the rewards.