What is Voice Commerce?
At the beginning let's focus on what Voice Commerce is in general, because it is still not a very popular phrase. It’s rather known among those who are highly familiar with the subject of digital sales. Voice Commerce is simply the action of making a purchase with the help of a voice, replacing the necessity of using a mouse and keyboard.
For example, we can tell our Voice Assistant what we want to buy with voice commands, and by connecting a debit or credit card to the service, everything happens fully automatically without the need to accept with a button or an additional code. The entire purchase transaction is based on subsequent voice commands.
This technology is available on many types of devices thanks to systems such as Siri (Apple), Cortana (Microsoft), Google Now (smartphones and computers) or others. You can also use it using so-called digital personal assistants. These are special devices with loudspeakers activated by the user's voice that answer the questions asked and carry out many different commands. It is said that more than 20 million devices of this type have been sold so far worldwide. The clear leader here is the Amazon intelligent speaker with a 75% of market share. Google device has about 24% share.
Revolution in e-commerce
It is believed that by the end of 2020 voice purchases can constitute up to 35% of all online transactions. There is a reason why Voice Commerce will be the next "big thing" in the development of store platforms. The USA and Western Europe passed the test phase of implementing this technology. Voice Commerce should be treated in the future as a potential trend that will help to overtake the competition. Those who skillfully use it in the early stages will surely hit the jackpot.
Voice Commerce is becoming more and more popular. First of all, due to the fact that this is a novelty on the market that people will want to test and simply play with it. Ordering by using just speech sounds encouraging. iPhone users definitely remember Siri's debut and voice fun with this tool. It is no different in this case, where curiosity and the desire to try something new prevails over traditional, "outdated" online orders.
It’s surely a great advantage when ordering everyday items and products that are relatively cheap and quickly marketable, where you do not have to think about the size or more complex parameters, like in case of clothes or professional services. This can be an opportunity for grocery e-commerce or various types of restaurants (or food delivery applications). Handling smaller amounts also means less risk of misunderstanding with the Voice Assistant.
First of all, Voice Commerce is a great convenience for potential users. Are we driving the car and realized that we do not have dinner at home? Are we hungry when watching our favorite TV series and do not want to interrupt the show? Do we need to do the shopping while exercising in the gym? Voice Commerce will be a great solution in all these situations significantly simplifying everyday routine.
Developing Voice Commerce
In the USA, top e-sellers are entering the voice commerce channel. Ocado (supermarket company) has developed a shopping application using the Amazon Alexa system. Argos and Walmart (retail companies) have prepared the possibility of buying through Google Assistant. Walmart and Google's business connection is an interesting example to illustrate competition in sales and new technologies because Amazon is their main competitor. Starbucks, for example, makes it possible to order coffee by voice when leaving the house and pick it up at the coffee shop. But voice commerce is not just a grocery and restaurant market. Also, the fashion industry is entering the sales market - as an example we can look at ASOS - the fashion company, which started in autumn 2018 with the sale on Google Assistant.
What is the reason that companies are already implementing the voice channel, when consumers have not yet become convinced to this form of shopping? It’s the matter of market analytics that say the voice commerce era is just a matter of time and it’s going to be the same situation like in the case of mobile applications popularity boom. The barriers here can be technological imperfections, safety issues or payment methods - only after improving them, will the consumers change their attitude and be convinced to these solutions.
Voice Commerce Barriers
The main concern for companies that consider getting into voice commerce is that consumers, instead of ordering specific brands, will only choose products (orange juice, mix of salads, leather jacket) and the algorithm will decide about its brand choice. This is a key threat, which may result in favoring brands of certain e-stores or those whose cooperation will be based on financial support of voice searches.
On the other hand, consumers point to other important risks associated with the need to improve voice technology.
One of the technological factors is the voice recognition issue. It means that the device does not recognize words correctly and misunderstands user queries or voice commands. This may be a problem because each of us pronounces words in a different way, with a different tone or accent, making it difficult for the device to recognize specific commands.
Amongst other issues related to voice technology are network connection problems - without access to the Internet users can not use all of the voice functions.
For some users voice commerce may be a bit difficult to use, especially for people who are not that tech savvy (for some people transferring from regular cell phones to smartphones was quite problematic).
Some people may be concerned about the security of personal data when using voice devices. Users may suspect voice devices of collecting private data, bank accounts numbers or places they go - in short, they think that such devices can spy on them.
It’s important to mention about payment system confusions. Payment operators are struggling whether to start cooperating with existing voice assistants or to develop their own solutions. Regardless of the choice, consumers should not only be prepared for voice payments, but more importantly - their safety must be ensured.
In order for e-stores to decide on the voice commerce option it is needed to change the advertising methods, e.g. related to positioning in search engines. Users have become accustomed to formulate key phrases in a short way while in voice systems it should be done in accordance with natural language.
Also in the markets where English is not the default language, voice commerce will not be possible until voice assistants appear in the required languages.
Natural language of voice requests
In comparison to traditional searches typed on computers or smartphones, voice search has some important distinguished features. Most ovoice searches are constructed in natural language without using typical key phrases. These queries have a conversational form and often search for "where, when, what, how, why" questions, voice search queries are usually much longer than searches entered manually on a computer or smartphone.
For example, we can take a query about searching for a place to spend a vacation - we will usually use the computer to search for the phrase "cheapest vacation abroad", while using voice search the query will look like this: "where is the cheapest place to spend the vacation abroad".
SEO and content in voice search
The specific nature of voice search means that website owners should adapt e-marketing activities to the changing way of using search engines and shopping online in order to take full advantage of the Voice Commerce benefits
Very complex and precise voice queries cause that the changes require an approach to the selection of keywords, their positioning in search engines (SEO) and optimization of the page for them. More attention should be paid to multi-word phrases (so-called long tail) more relevant to long, comprehensive voice searches, as well as to holistic topics and issues. It is required to direct actions more in their perspective than for specific terms.
Voice assistants usually present an answer based on the result occupying only the highest position in the Internet search engine they use. Therefore, it is even more important to achieve the highest positions in search engines for the most important key phrases related to your business. Because it is very difficult, time-consuming and expensive, it is worth considering focusing on fewer search queries targeted for voice searches and achieving top positions for them, instead of conducting SEO activities for a very large number of phrases, but with worse results.
It is very important to analyze the content of the website and the needs and expectations of users, and to adjust the content accordingly. The idea is to provide answers to questions such as "how, what, how much, where," because they can be particularly relevant to recipients. For this purpose, it’s possible to edit the current content of the site or create a new one (e.g. articles, guides or descriptions). Good idea might also be using the FAQ model (frequently asked questions) or the Q&A content template (questions and answers).
When it comes to mobile voice searches, they are much more often related to location than text searches. For this reason, many companies (e.g. with branches or collection points) may find it useful to conduct "local SEO" activities. It's worth optimizing a website for key phrases relevant to local users. Such phrases may be landmarks, objects, location or directions (e.g. "downtown", "near a park", etc.), local places of interest or attractions related to the company or phrases and terms specific to the region used in natural language.
It is also important to remember to keep correct address details of the company and its branches. These details include the exact address, phone number, email and opening hours. In addition, it’s required to ensure that company data are placed and fully supplemented in industry portals, company websites and social network sites.
Building customer relationships based on voice
Voice search is still a new channel of communication with the brand, so first you should familiarize customers with the possibilities offered by voice commerce by preparing a simple application. It is worth starting shaping the habit of using voice interfaces by creating solutions that respond to the needs of customers and provide value. It is about building experiences that, thanks to interaction with the voice interface, save time of the customer, are easier and faster to use than mobile devices and allow multitasking.
The reality around us is becoming more and more "vocal" and conversational. We return to what is natural for us in the ways of communication - speech. This is especially visible in the predictions as to the development of the technology itself. It is forecasted that by the end of 2021 most large companies expect to rely on voice automation in customer service and sales, as well as to help their employees manage schedules and overtime their work.
To sum up, voice search is the technology of the future - it is relatively simple to use, convenient and significantly simplifies searching for information. Looking at the current rate of development of voice search, we should be prepared for the upcoming revolution in information search. Certainly, with the emergence of support for more languages supported by voice assistants, the number of users using this type of solutions will increase significantly. Regardless of whether we consider local business or an online store, optimization of actions in terms of implementing voice search is a necessity that will help to gain a significant advantage over the competition.