You’ve probably heard that you can now order products directly from Amazon with your voice on an Amazon Echo. All you have to say is:

“Alexa, please order me a new chess set.” And a chess game arrives at your door, with the cost automatically charged to the credit card you have on file with Amazon. It’s as simple as that.

For online retailers, the idea of giving customers the ability to order so easily with voice is incredibly compelling. However, outside of Amazon, very few companies have actually adopted voice technology in this way. That, however, is going to change – and soon.

In fact, there are a number of innovative applications for voice in eCommerce. Your business could be at the cutting edge of the industry and offer your users a more natural way to engage with your brand.

For example, instead of typing into a search bar and manipulating filters on your mobile app or website, users can simply say exactly what they want. It’s a new and exciting way to serve your customers, and with recent advances in voice technology, it’s entirely possible to offer it today.

It all starts with voice search

For Amazon, ordering products with voice is an easy and obvious application of Alexa voice technology. The Echo was built first and foremost to make it easier to buy through Amazon. More recently, Amazon added very basic voice search to the Amazon mobile app to enhance the existing shopping experience. For eCommerce companies that are not Amazon, adding voice search to their existing mobile experiences is within close reach. And technology, like Voysis, can provide an even more natural and complete voice experience than what Amazon offers in their app today. You can view a great example of this here.

Another very compelling use case is on-demand eCommerce, which allows your customers to quickly and simply order products with their voice. For example, a flower company could offer customers the ability to say: “Please send two dozen roses to my wife at her office this afternoon.” To take that further, the possibilities expand with a multi-modal approach to voice – where you have voice interaction along with supporting visuals on a screen. The introduction of Amazon’s new Echo Show acknowledges that there’s often a tactile element to online shopping, and many people want to see a product before they buy it.

Adding voice capabilities to your existing mobile experience is a no-brainer, allowing customers to search, select, and buy with their voice all while seeing the products as they browse. But again, you have to consider when and where voice is the right option. In some cases, it may be easier to click the Add to cart button or increase an item quantity with a simple click. When done right, voice has the ability to add significant value for your customers, by simplifying their interactions, making them more natural, and in the end making their eCommerce experience measurably enjoyable.

The importance of a seamless experience

In their early days, most truly game-changing features experience a warring balance of delight and frustration – and consumer reaction to the early voice assistants was no exception. Most people understand the potential, but after a few failed attempts, many have ditched voice altogether or settled complacently into the few use cases that did work well, namely listening to music or setting timers. But the demand is there. Shifting back to mobile eCommerce, this points to the importance of thoughtfully designed voice experiences that are fast and accurate. Experiences that will delight your users and make their experience better. When customers ask a question, they expect an immediate and accurate response.

Going back to the example of ordering flowers, just think about the complexity hidden within this “simple” request. Asking for two dozens roses might sound simple enough, but often times a user doesn’t know exactly what to order and, when they do, many voice systems aren’t trained to understand the floral vocabulary. In addition, voice technology must recognize the identity of the customer’s wife and the exact address of her work, in addition to delivering the flowers at the right moment.

Thanks to recent advancements and new approaches to voice technology, namely the application of neural networks, we finally have the building blocks required to deliver highly accurate and responsive voice experiences.

A key competitive advantage

In today’s digital world, you’re probably already using Facebook ads, Google retargeting, email marketing and much more to engage with your audience and encourage them to click “Buy.” But the market for eCommerce is increasingly competitive, and it’s becoming harder and harder for an individual brand to stand out from the crowd. For your brand, voice could be that differentiator.

But what about adoption? If you’re concerned that users don’t yet understand or want to use voice, the major tech companies would beg to differ. Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri are actually doing a lot of the hard work for you already. These platforms are the entrée to voice technology. They’re teaching the broader population to become more accustomed to using voice – training your users for you and increasing adoption of the technology across the board.  

By the time you add voice capabilities to your website or app, more and more customers will actually be expecting voice to be a part of their eCommerce experience. Combining the right use case and a seamless voice experience can easily make your brand stand out from the crowd. Don’t wait until every one of your competitors offers voice for their customers – step up and be the one that leads the pack.