As Voice assistants have gained significant market penetration over the last year, they are moving from a novelty tech item to valuable home companions. With a massive user base now up and running on the technology, reports have finally begun to surface regarding usage of these voice assistants. Of particular interest to those invested in the voice space is the commerce aspect– how are users discovering and buying products? Reviewing the available data, we’re beginning to understand some common behaviors and identify key considerations for voice commerce.

Key Findings

V-Commerce Has Arrived.
Most studies suggest that at least 25% of consumers who own and engage with voice assistants have used it for purchases. Studies suggest that 10%+ of consumers are purchasing using the devices on a monthly basis.

Build a Presence Within the Path to Purchase.
In addition to purchasing directly using voice assistants, consumers are finding the technology valuable in supporting them throughout their journey from research through order tracking, reviews and more.

Consider the Voice Ecosystem.
Getting a product to surface properly in voice search is not as easy as it may seem and the broader digital ecosystem must be considered as part of any strategy. Touchpoints that are affecting this experience include: email, search and retail partner channels.



Shopping Usage

Our recent Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report with Pullstring and Voicebot AI found that 26% of smart speaker users have ordered products through voice and that 11.5% do so on a monthly basis. In addition to smart speakers, a recent report from Navar found that 24% of virtual assistant users (Siri, Google Assistant) are also shopping using voice.

Of users engaging in voice commerce, Amazon continues to win the market share of device ownership with our report finding 63% of users owning an Echo device and 33% using Google Home. However, the Google Home owners have a higher voice commerce usage rate (36% vs. 23%.)

This higher v-commerce usage may account for Google’s own findings about voice assistant users late last year, reporting that 62% of those who regularly use a voice-activated speaker say they are likely to buy something with it in the next month.

Path To Purchase

While the data from various studies generally suggests that between 22-32% of voice assistant users are engaging in v-commerce, what we haven’t known is how they’re using the devices to get them to the point of purchase.

Navar’s study has found that user’s are turning to Voice assistants for the entire purchase journey, from research to re-ordering:


(Source: Navar November 2017)

According to a recent report from Voysis and Retail Touchpoints, retailers are investing approximately 14% of their digital budgets into voice technology and these levels of consumer use are aligned with their expectations for the technology.


(Source: Voysis December 2017)

Extended Channels

The v-commerce experience goes beyond smart speakers and it’s important to keep the broader ecosystem in mind. One touchpoint that’s critical for achieving regular communication with consumers as well as driving voice interaction follow-ups, is email. The Navar study found that 52% of voice assistant users opt-in to email programs, which is 22% more likely than non-users. This is an encouraging statistic for brands looking to build CRM lists through the new technology.

Additionally, brands leveraging voice technology for commerce should be cognizant of the different ways consumers are engaging with it. While smart speaker ownership is growing rapidly, virtual assistants accessed via smartphone continue to drive search and purchase volume. To capitalize on smartphone usage, brands need to be ready with conversational search strategies to surface the most relevant content.

It should be noted that a brand’s distribution partners will impact their voice commerce approach.

For brands on Amazon, their product listing pages and shipping agreements will dictate how they surface in voice search using Alexa. Similarly, brands who have a relationship with Walmart will want to consider a strategic presence on Google Home, as they have an existing partnership in voice commerce. These partnerships should play an important role in deciding platform selection and strategies.



V-Commerce is off to a running start and is projected to continue growing rapidly. As brands and businesses consider their place in the newly established voice market, it’s clear they will need to ramp up their strategies quickly.. Voice will continue to grow its role in consumers path to purchase and brands have an opportunity to build their digital ecosystem to meet their needs. The sooner brands embrace this technology, the sooner they can win in the world of voice.



Sources:
Connecting with Shoppers, Navar
Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report, Voicebot AI, Pullstring, and RAIN
The Smart Audio Report, NPR and Edison Research
5 ways voice assistance is shaping consumer behavior, Think with Google
Retailers Prepare for Voice, Voysis and Retail Touchpoints
Voice-enabled smart speakers to reach 55% of U.S. households by 2022, says report, TechCrunch
Walmart, Google Partner to Make Shopping Even Easier, Walmart