Voice Commerce – the Need for Retailers to Adopt it and the Associated Risks

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Voice Commerce – the Need for Retailers to Adopt it and the Associated Risks

As popularity in voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant grows, retailers are jumping at the opportunity to leverage voice commerce to create unique and dynamic shopping experiences.

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Recent researches have predicted that voice shopping will reach over $40 billion by 2022, from the current $2 billion. However, in the era where customer experience defines a brand, today’s smart speakers aren’t adequately equipped to handle the complexities associated with retail and online shopping.

Today, approximately one-third of U.S. consumers own a smart speaker, with the worldwide installed user base going above 100 million units.  As per Deloitte, the smart speaker is the device that has experienced the highest year-over-year increase in ownership from mid-2018 in about seven markets. Deloitte had estimated that 164 million smart speakers to be sold in 2019, and the predictions were not over-estimated. The industry experts have predicted that voice shopping on Alexa alone could generate over $5 billion per year revenue by 2020.

Some early retail adopters have already elevated their CX to the next level with voice. H&M launched a voice-enabled gift guide highlighting its home décor collection, powered by Google Assistant. This enabled shoppers to browse products and purchase merchandise using voice command. Such innovation could not only help retailers reduce staff demands, but also create unique shopper profiles to capture consumers’ preferences and questions to help personalize future visits. It is evident that voice technology will play an integral part in enhancing the retail CX for the masses, offering unprecedented levels of integration, convenience, and customization.

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But, many factors are inhibiting their widespread adoption. While people are stocking up on smart speakers, the majority aren’t genuinely using them to shop. According to The Information’s 2018 report, only 2% of people owning an Amazon Alexa used it for shopping. This disparity is shocking as shopping is a highly visual experience. Maybe this is because most of the smart speakers are screenless; post-purchase confirmations cannot be displayed, creating unnecessary confusion on the customer side.

There’s another massive issue of voice recognition. Getting the device to understand and accurately respond to a request takes multiple attempts. Adding on to this is the everyday background noise or other human voice to the mix, the chances of getting the request right are negative. For voice commerce to become mainstream, the voice technology needs to evolve, delivering accuracy and improved recognition, and ultimately, more personalized results.

Technologists are making breakthroughs with AI-powered signal processing solutions that leverage biometrics to aggressively segregate and improve the voice of interest from other background voices and distracting sounds. These advancements promise to eliminate the risks associated with voice tech. They are sorting the customization challenges by helping voice assistants and smart speakers to improve pattern recognition, speech command accuracy, and overall sound quality.

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By harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence and voice biometrics can help retailers enhance sound quality and speech command accuracy, making high-quality voice technology to become an integral piece in solving the retail customer personalization puzzle.