A Ripe Moment for Voice-Enabled Grocery Shopping

Errands to the grocery store can transform into unpleasant trips that last hours as customers waste time traversing the aisles looking for specific items and waiting to check out. As COVID swept the nation, grocery stores have seen increased business as customers flocked to their local supermarkets to stock up. But with a virus that spreads through direct interactions, these crowded atmospheres are no longer safe, pushing retailers to rethink how technology can streamline these transactions. Curbside pickup and online orders have dramatically swelled as customers search for contactless experiences outside and inside the store. Voice and conversational AI are ready to accommodate this behavior shift, allowing shoppers to place, purchase, and pick up orders with voice. If stores want to meet the moment, developing voice-first shopping experiences will be key.

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Put All Your Eggs in This Smart Basket

Tired of long lines at the grocery store? You’re in luck. Amazon is opening its first Fresh store this fall, which will provide a smart food shopping experience. Echo Show devices will be positioned inside, allowing customers to ask Alexa where certain items are. Dash Carts, shopping carts linked to online shopping lists and integrated with sensors, scales, and barcode scanners, will automatically charge purchases to customers’ Amazon accounts as they leave the store. In addition to the existing 25 Amazon Go stores, a total of seven Amazon Fresh stores will open in the future, paving the future for more tech-enabled brick-and-mortar. More on CNN

The Suite Life of Voice

The dreaded call to the front desk is getting an upgrade. Google and Volara, a company that provides voice-based guest engagement software, are making hotel experiences safer and more seamless by employing contactless guest engagement and touchless room controls. Hotel rooms will include Google Nest Hubs that guests can use to request amenities, adjust room temperature and lights, play music and shows, and more. Hotels are already adopting the technology to ensure safer stays, protecting guests and staff alike. As COVID persists into the months ahead, voice-enabled hospitality may become the norm. More on TravelPulse

Watch Your Tone With Halo

Amazon is getting up close and personal. Halo, the company’s new fitness wearable equipped with an app and subscription service, is taking Apple Watch and Fitbit head on. Although the wristband for tracking your health and fitness habits doesn’t have a screen or text-to-speech functionality, its features monitor heart rate, sleep, and temperature. Unique capabilities allow this aesthetically simple yet powerful device to estimate body fat by creating a 3D image of your body and identify emotions by listening to the tone of your voice. It remains to be seen how this emotion-detection-through-voice capability may become more deeply integrated into consumers’ Alexa experience down the road. More on The Verge

Stats Don’t Lie  

72% of consumers said that the tone of voice in podcast advertising is important to them in the current climate. (data via Mobile Marketer)

60% of first-time adopters in the US say that COVID led them to try new health devices, apps, or services. (data via BusinessInsider)

Chart of the Week

TechCrunch Global Voice Assistants 2020
(TechCrunch n.b. paywall)


Next in Line: How Voice Tech is Poised to Transform Retail

How can brick-and-mortar retail stores ensure safer and smoother shopping experiences during COVID? In our latest blog, RAIN’s Kristen Wong discusses how grocery stores can use voice technology to adapt to the evolving shopping journey, create back-of-house efficiencies, and drive new on-the-go customer experiences. Read it here.