Voice Shopping is all the talk on tech & search optimisation sites at the moment. Every article is “Voice Shopping is the next big thing in E-Commerce” but is it really? There’s no doubt that the way in which people are using their devices for online shopping is changing, however, is there a foreseeable future for voice search and E-Commerce?
Sources such as digital doughnut and 4mation claim that voice search and e-commerce are on the rise. On the other hand websites such as Forbes and blog.hubspot predict that voice search is already a thing of the past. Forbes also states that regular online shopping is superior compared to voice shopping. Many articles have posted about the hype of voice shopping and e-commerce, although if we dig deeper it shows that no one is really benefiting in a significant way from voice shopping or voice search; at least in its infantile stage of growth.
What does the twitter-sphere think?
The Voice search machine ‘Alexa’ is known to be biased towards Amazon products.
From this graph, we see that Alexa is persuading customers towards Amazon Choice products and their own private labels. If an Amazon Choice product does not meet the match of the user’s search, it will then redirect the user to the top search result.
First time buying on Alexa?
Here’s your first list of options:
- Amazon Choice product
- Amazon Prime product
For first time buyers Alexa will only recommend Amazon products in hopes that you won’t say “not what I’m looking for”. Alexa is not providing voice shoppers with a variety of brands and it’s definitely not giving us an opportunity to decide for ourselves. In this case and example it seems to be working in it’s own best interests rather than that of its users.
Will it take over?
As popular as it’s predicted to be, there are many reasons as to why it won’t ‘take over the world’.
It has been questioned how far voice shopping can go if there is a sense of embarrassment attached to it. Creative strategies have conducted a study on who uses voice assistance and where they use it. “20% of consumers who said they never used a voice assistant stated they had not done so because they feel uncomfortable talking to their technology, especially in public.”
Privacy is an issue with AI and smart speakers, numerous people have a fear of being recorded in their own home. In may 2018, an incident occurred where the smart speaker ‘Alexa’ recorded a private conversation which it then sent out to a random contact in her phonebook. The recipient of the message received the audio files of their conversation. He immediately contacted the woman who was shocked to hear that her beloved Alexa had betrayed her trust. It’s highly problematic that smart speakers are essentially always listening.
Voice-activated shopping is using your smart speaker to purchase products. It is used for simple requests such as “order me more toilet paper” or “order Chinese food”. First you are required to give the smart speaker your details such as phone number and card number etc. The device will automatically remember this information for your next purchase.
eCommerce Fuel posted a podcast discussing the future of e-commerce and voice search. Miracle Wanzo, a member of eCommerce Fuel says “it’s gonna be hard to purchase a lot of things sight unseen, just totally relying on an assistant to get it right”. This is completely true. It may be simple to use for items you are familiar with and have purchased before however, for more detailed online shopping, voice assist isn’t ideal. Wanzo also suggests that “smart speakers are for those who are agnostic to which brand they purchase”. A small minority of online shoppers are agnostic. Most online shoppers choose to research the brand and read reviews of the product.
“Why would anyone use these devices to shop? It’s like using a laptop as a hammer”-David Coldeway, TechCrunch.
Voice shopping only reaches a certain type of online shopping, it’s really great for quick requests such as “order me more coffee”. How will voice search possibly make it in the clothing market or without having a screen and with a screen it’s practically a iPad! Humans are visual creatures, a statistic from mcknightkurland states that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual.
Smart speakers find it difficult to understand users with thick accents.
“These systems are going to work best for white, highly educated, upper-middle-class Americans, probably from the West Coast, because that’s the group that’s had access to the technology from the very beginning”-Rachael Tatman, data scientist.
We are also required to change the way we are speaking as it be may be difficult for the device to understand any sentence that is too complicated.
How to talk to smart speakers:
- Don’t use long sentences (be brief)
- Avoid jargon
- Use conversation markers
- Provide prompts while the smart speaker is searching for your answer
This creates even more work for the user. Who deemed this as an easier option than typing into a search engine?
The future of voice shopping and e-commerce is still unknown. The fact is what smart speakers offer to users is minimal and isn’t realistic for the future. It’s current and it’s exciting but it’s it’s hard to believe that it will take over ‘regular’ online shopping and using search engines. If you want to learn more, check out SEO Sydney for the top trends in this industry.