Business  |  December 7, 2017

In 2017 we listened, but in 2018 voice takes center stage

Ryan MacInnis

Ryan MacInnis

Director of Marketing

At the beginning of 2017, we read tens of articles proclaiming that this was the year of voice. This was going to be the year that voice technology, and its adoption, took off.

For consumers, that was absolutely the case. Amazon sold roughly four million Echos in 2016, and is estimated to have sold nearly 30 million so far this year.

That’s a 650% increase.

But the biggest challenge in 2017 was businesses figuring out what to do with voice. In 2018, they’ll have no choice. In 2018, voice will be bigger than a “nice to have” or a “trend to watch”. Voice will be the difference between brands that deliver exceptional customer experiences, and those that fall to the likes of Amazon.

20% Have Made a Voice-Enabled Purchase

The biggest critique of the Echo when it first came out, was that no one would use a speaker to buy something. We thought the same thing about putting our credit cards on the internet, and buying via mobile websites or mobile apps. The proof, as they say, is in the purchase. That’s why many brands were surprised to see that nearly one in five users who own a voice-enabled device have made a purchase with it. The behavior is there, and the expectations have now been set.

Here are a few reasons why this shouldn’t be a surprise:
  • 83% of consumers believe using voice technology makes it easier to find products
  • 89% of consumers say that voice makes searches faster (Stanford says 3x faster)
  • More than half of U.S. teens already use voice search daily

50% of Retailers are Investing in Voice

We recently published a report that showed that 50% of retailers are currently investing in voice technology, up from the ~1% earlier this year. That gargantuan change has been driven by the adoption of voice-enabled devices, which is estimated to be in 55% of all US households by 2022.

Their biggest focus? Mobile conversions and the overall mobile shopping experience, because let’s face it: shopping on a mobile device, whether app or web, is painful. According to 78% of those retailers, their number one goal is to increase mobile purchases. And when you have hundreds of products and a poor search and discovery experience, customers are bound to get frustrated and leave your digital property.

The most immediate impact for voice is in mobile. Using voice for search and discovery is not only 3x faster than typing, but it can help those customers find what they’re looking for much faster. Six clicks and boxes checked off for filters to find men’s running shoes in size 12, turns into “show me men’s running shoes in size 12” with Voysis.

And Amazon is already implementing this into their mobile experience, adding Alexa’s capabilities natively to the Amazon app. This is bigger than having an answer to smart speakers, or building a skill to give your customers another way to interact with your brand on a third party device. This has become an intimate and native experience that Amazon is putting pressure on retailers to have an answer to.

Black Friday was a Sneak Peek of What’s to Come

This year ecommerce records were smashed on Black Friday and the Thanksgiving weekend shopping extravaganza. But the biggest surprise, or maybe lack thereof, was that Amazon was responsible for over 55% of online purchases. And even more interesting? Echos were the number one item sold, and the top purchase using a smart speaker was other Amazon products.

This cycle of going to a retailer or Amazon to buy a speaker and then turn around and use it to buy more Amazon products is a deadly combination; one that has the potential to close competing businesses single-handedly. The good news is that retailers and brands alike have some time to get their voice strategy in place to combat Amazon.

2018 will be the year that voice separates your brand from the rest. Are you ready?


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