What Is Voice Commerce and How Is It Transforming Retail?

Nov 10 2023

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The Rise of Voice Commerce In Online Retail

AI bots have become an inseparable part of our lives. They’re completing sentences, organizing meetings, curating playlists, ordering groceries and even capable of applying makeup on our faces. As our reliance on digital assistants and smart devices grows, the intersection of voice technology and ecommerce has ushered in a new era of convenience and accessibility. This evolution in voice commerce with significant increase in online retail transactions has come as a gamer changer to create faster opportunities for businesses.

This blog delves into the transformative journey of voice commerce, exploring its emergence, the technology driving it, and how it is reshaping the landscape of online retail.

What is Voice Commerce?

Voice commerce, or v-commerce, refers to an ecommerce model enabling customers to make purchases and access services through voice commands. It is fast, contactless, highly visible, and more interactive than traditional commerce.

Designed by retailer giants to work in tandem with voice assistants like Apple’s Siri, Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana, voice commerce streamlines the customer journey, customizing the purchasing experience for every individual. 

Voice commerce finds its ideal fit in industries like beauty, apparel, packaged goods, consumer electronics, and home improvement due to their extensive content and product offerings. This technology enables effortless product discovery, pricing checks, and purchases without the need for manual search engine queries.

Key voice commerce trends:

With such shifting trends of customer experiencesbrands are ready to incorporate what is selling in the market.

How Does Voice Commerce Work?

Voice commerce is the combination of various technologies like natural language processing, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. These elements empower devices to comprehend and decipher spoken language, transforming it into actionable instructions.

Here's a breakdown of the key components and their roles in the structure of voice commerce:

1. Voice Recognition

The process begins with voice recognition. Voice recognition converts spoken words to text using advanced algorithms, often powered by machine learning, ensuring accurate interpretation and transcription of spoken language.

2. Natural Language Processing (NLP)

NLP is vital for grasping user intent and context, analyzing transcribed text to extract pertinent information. This enables the system to understand and respond to user commands and requests effectively.

3. User Authentication

Voice commerce systems enhance security through user authentication, using methods like voiceprint recognition, facial recognition, or fingerprint scanning to verify identity before processing transactions, ensuring a secure transaction process.

4. Product Search and Recommendations

Upon grasping the user's request, the system deploys AI algorithms to search products, verify inventory, and offer personalized recommendations, considering the user's preferences, history, and context for a tailored experience.

5. Transaction Processing

Upon product/service selection, the system starts the transaction, connecting with user-configured payment methods (credit cards/digital wallets). It ensures security by employing robust transaction protocols to safeguard sensitive information.

6. Order Confirmation and Tracking

Post-transaction, the system furnishes users with confirmation details—order summary, payment confirmation, and estimated delivery times. Users can inquire about order status, receiving real-time updates through order tracking.

7. Post-Purchase Support

Post-purchase, voice commerce systems support customers with queries, returns, and additional product information, ensuring a comprehensive and satisfactory customer experience through effective post-purchase assistance.

8. Continuous Improvement

Voice commerce improves user understanding through feedback and ML, refining its accuracy in interpreting voice commands, and providing better product recommendations based on evolving user preferences.

9. Integration with Ecommerce Platforms

Voice commerce systems need to integrate seamlessly with ecommerce platforms and databases. This integration ensures real-time access to product information, inventory, pricing, and other relevant data.

10. Security Measures

Security is a critical aspect of voice commerce. Encryption, secure communication protocols, and robust authentication mechanisms are implemented to protect user data and financial information during transactions.

11. Device and Platform Compatibility

Voice commerce systems must be compatible with various devices and platforms, including smart speakers, smartphones, and other voice-enabled devices. This ensures a broad reach and accessibility for users

How Do Voice Commerce Benefits Impact Online Retail  

Now when you have learned    about Voice Commerce growth and related benefits of voice technology for the end-users, let’s have a deep dive in the powerful use cases of voice-controlled assistants that can help the retail sector to strengthen their services to end-users:

  • Consistent, Engaging, and Personalized User Experiences

User experience or UX is more than just a collection of features. Great user experiences are built on a foundation of data, automation, and intelligence to understand your customers and meet their unique needs.

Voice assistant is the best choice if we talk about consistent user experience.   As  the device can change but the user experience remains the same. Unlike traditional responsive versions of your website for different devices, voice-enabled experiences don’t require any effort.

‘Speech conveys more meaning than text.’

As Voice technology is conversational in nature, it can interact with the user more intimately. Voice makes any website or application smart, accessible and gives users an engaging experience when they just talk naturally to your application and get what they need immediately. Unlike web pages, users don’t need to stare at the screen and read the whole content on your portal.

Last but not the least, voice-enabled interfaces can build that personalized experience by providing context closer to the users. Voice commerce combines the benefits of audio and speech recognition systems, voice generation and voice translation technologies, as well as text-based web search technologies, robotics, and haptic feedback to create a new platform for consumers to engage with businesses in a new way. 

One fine example is Amazon's Alexa. It works on three main commands order, re-order and add. Every existing user has data and user behavior saved and thus offers personalized and engaging user experiences.

  •  Voice Commerce Marketing

Marketing is the essence of the retail world. And voice is an extremely powerful tool for any digital marketing campaign. From shopping to making a business call with customer support, voice has become an increasingly popular technology for consumers.

Nowadays, people are exhausted from visual marketing, such as ads in-between videos on YouTube etc. Also, the platform allows them an option to skip ads or buy premium subscriptions to avoid advertisements. Talking about voice marketing, it is still a new concept; consumers are not used to it yet. It means your brand has increased chances of the likelihood of people listening to it.

Moreover, by using voice technology, you’re able to advertise your product without having to actually show up in person. Voice commerce has already started becoming a growing trend as smart home technology becomes more mainstream due to its ability to be programmed via voice command.

Again, Amazon's Alexa is the top brand incorporating voice marketing. The hierarchy of Alexa product recommendations covers previously ordered, amazon's choice, and top search results. It suggests users the products that compliment user's needs and past purchases. The user can simply answer yes or no to the suggestions made. Also, if the user’s choice is unavailable, the voice assistant suggests checking the Alexa app for more options. In simple words, it is promoting another product to users.

  • Discoverability and Generating Traffic

If you manage a website and rely on search engines to bring in new visitors, you are missing out on the huge opportunity of voice commerce. In the future, front-page rankings will become a thing of the past as users will become more accustomed to voice interactions with products or services before they decide to make a purchase.

Luckily there are tons of different methods to generate traffic and plenty of options for generating leads with voice commerce. As an example, Google voice merchants (Google Apps Scripts) are used by most of the companies to drive traffic on websites.

Marketers can use internet-connected devices in the home via Google Home and Amazon Echo to advertise their products. Having a voice assistant instead of a salesperson gives you the luxury to reach and engage anyone sitting anywhere in the world to promote your offerings thus bringing in more traffic to your website.

While everyone benefits from this type of marketing and discoverability approach, it does present several challenges for businesses that want their websites viewed by larger audiences.

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Challenges of Voice Commerce

Marketing products with voice technology can be challenging, but it's not impossible.  Voice and online commerce are undoubtedly the best combinations in today’s competitive landscape. But there are some limitations of voice user interfaces that you need to consider. For instance, voice ordering works well for repetitive orders. Voice assistants are good at recognizing shopping patterns, so if a customer has placed an order before then a voice assistant can help place the same order for the second time, that works well.

Here lies the major issue as there are many other products or services available at your portal but without a visual component it would be impossible for the customer to look at it or even purchase it. What a customer sees on a website, or a mobile application is actually crucial for exploring and discovering new products.

So, what do retailers need to do to get the best of voice commerce in their ecommerce platform?

1. Content optimization

If you wish to get the best of voice assistants for your retail business, you need to work more on content optimization. Not only the product titles but also product descriptions, especially if the voice assistant wants to help a customer guide through the process, it really helps.

2. Q&A on product detail page

Almost every voice assistant uses conversational sentences where the majority of users ask questions. So, you need to optimize your web pages by including a good question answer section especially on product detail pages.

If you do this, the voice assistant can get to know this content and then actually make smart recommendations.

3. Long-tail keyword

As voice assistants go for lengthy sentences while interacting with users, it is advisable to include long-tail keywords in web pages. Or you can include multiple keywords in one keyword. For instance, the keyword ‘best LED lights’ is less likely to deliver relevant results in contrast with ‘where can I find best LED lights near me’.

Things to Consider Before Opting In vs Opting Out for Voice Commerce

Voice commerce is a tempting digital innovation in online retail. However, it might not serve a purpose for every business. Therefore, you need to be careful before opting for it. Here are some of the points that you should consider before incorporating voice-based commerce in our business:

  • Whether your product catalog and consumer base are suitable for voice ordering?
  • Internal discussion with the ecommerce team and technology team.
  • Brainstorm would ecommerce and voice ordering gel together for your business vertical.

If the answers to all these are supportive to voice commerce, there should not be a second thought.

Harness The Prowess of Voice Commerce Now

Online retail plays a significant role in the daily lives of millions of people and many brands operating in this vertical have used voice commerce as a more effective way to increase sales and engage customers.

Undoubtedly, voice commerce is quickly emerging as one of the most innovative trends in retail. With the emergence of voice technology and smart speakers, retailers need to make their ecommerce platforms voice-friendly to compete with their counterparts who offer unparalleled customer experience.

And the window of opportunities opens now for companies to work on voice-based offers. So now is the time to start working on incorporating voice commerce. At Icreon, our professionals thrive to offer advanced and feature-packed solutions that supports emerging technologies like voice. If you’re ready to take the next step in improving your ecommerce platform, start a conversation with our Ecommerce experts.