Although it has not yet arrived in force in Brazil, voice commerce is a trend that has become a reality in more mature markets and it is only a matter of time before it will be accepted by Brazilian consumers. We’re talking about using voice recognition technology to buy goods and services online, allowing customers to make purchases through voice commands instead of manually typing keywords into a computer or mobile device. With the help of a virtual digital assistant (VDA) – such as Google Assistant, Siri or Amazon Alexa – consumers can search and shop online.
To give you an idea of the potential of this market, the statistics page provides a number of data about the model. The global value of e-commerce purchases made through VDA was $4.6 billion in 2021, and that volume is expected to reach $19.4 billion in 2023. Also last year, more than 45 million consumers in the United States used voice technology for its shopping experience, up 120% from 2018.
If these figures are confirmed, we will see an increase of more than 400% in just two years driven by the growth of capabilities, mainly with the use of VDA and smartphones. Many of these purchases were made through so-called smart speakers. Not coincidentally, the installed base of this equipment in the United States jumped from 47.3 million units in 2018 to 91 million last year. This volume is expected to grow even more this year, reaching approximately 95 million units.
The customer is looking for more benefits
Behind this growth are the flexibility and practicality brought by this new purchasing model. Despite the dominance of smart speakers, voice assistants can be used on any device. Until last year, Siri, Apple’s voice assistant and Google Assistant were mainly used on mobile phones, while Alexa and Siri were known as the most popular voice assistants. There is some age bias here, as 48% of people over 55 said they use Alexa, while 60% of users between the ages of 18 and 24 showed a preference for Siri.
The fact is that voice shopping is growing all over the world. The share of people making purchases via smart speakers, for example, has increased by an average of 69 percentage points worldwide during the coronavirus pandemic. Of the regions surveyed by the statistician, the Middle East showed the greatest growth in this period, with purchases through these devices up 73 percentage points. North America follows with 72%, while Europe recorded an increase of approximately 64 percentage points.
This growth is largely due to the practicality that the model brings. In the case of smart speakers, such as Alexa, the consumer simply talks to his device and asks it to buy whatever he needs. The secret here is ultra-practicality with huge growth potential.
Voice brings a more inclusive online shopping model
An example is people who are afraid to shop online today because they do not know how to use technology, either on their computers or smartphones. Many go into their apps and give up on the purchase at first suspicion. This should not happen with voice purchases, because the voice is a more natural area of the human being. When we adopted the voice buying model, we removed most of the existing technological barriers
For this very reason, voice commerce is expected to reach audiences in segments that have not been served by a few companies until now. The ultra-convenience offered by the model presents itself as the last obstacle to e-commerce, as it turns the order into a simple voice command.
To expand this, however, there are some steps. The first is cultural and involves mass adoption of virtual assistants by the population. The technology is there, it’s available and, as always, it should start small, but with very positive prospects for adoption, since the vast majority of consumers prefer not to type and talk to a machine.
Multichannel is the foundation for voice shopping
On the business side, it’s time to embrace de facto omnichannel solutions. Treating all channels in a multi-channel way, it will enable voice orders anywhere: via VDA, via mobile phone, by calling a call center (provided it is equipped with a bot that can send orders) or even via apps, as the expansion of the model should force them to they receive voice buttons that allow them to order.
Behind this ultra-practical model will need an e-commerce platform prepared to be multi-channel, capable of being the central point of order management. It must also centralize the company’s catalogs, becoming an orchestrator of actions that will allow, for example, ordering in one channel and withdrawing in another, or even starting a conversation on Alexa and ending it in the shopping app.
It is another step on the path of digital transformation of retail. It will not be easy, but it is necessary, and whoever masters it, should be ahead of the competition in many aspects, including in B2B transactions. It is the last technological frontier, and we are right there on it.