Business  |  December 13, 2017

Alexa won Black Friday, but here’s why that’s bad for retailers

Ryan MacInnis

Ryan MacInnis

Director of Marketing

2017 has been the year of voice, and Black Friday proved to be the trojan horse in which Amazon took the cake for best-selling items. With 30 million voice-enabled devices in circulation in US households, Alexa devices were one of the top items sold, hitting low prices of $29.99, which rivaled the Google Home Mini, also being primarily sold at $29.99.

But here’s why this is important. Amazon accounted for 55% of all online transactions on Black Friday, according to some news outlets, and the number one thing purchased on Alexa devices? Other Amazon products.

As a retailer, you should be worried about this.

The majority of the $7.9 billion dollar Thanksgiving weekend shopping extravaganza happened on Amazon. As more than half of all product searches are beginning on Amazon, and not Google, the ecommerce giant has the upper hand. Many brands thought that the answer to “taming the beast” was to partner with Amazon, with companies like Best Buy and Kohl’s offering to promote Alexa devices, and other integrations for their blossoming partnership. But if Black Friday numbers are any indication on how things will play out when it comes to Alexa, then it’s Amazon’s world and we’re just living in it.

Brands are pushing Alexa devices, which users are buying in droves, to then turn around and buy Amazon products with those speakers. See the problem here?

A few brands strategically offered products that Amazon wasn’t listing, slashing prices even lower, and attempting to gain the upper hand with free shipping and additional perks for their brick and mortar locations. Many are saying that Black Friday isn’t what it used to be, and that fewer people today are camping out a week early to snag that deal on a new flat screen TV. Black Friday was always in person, and Cyber Monday was its online counterpart. Now, the lines are blurred, and it’s a four-day weekend shopping adventure, most of which is happening online.

Nearly 50% of site traffic was driven from smart devices, and retailers are now focusing on ways to improve the multi-modal shopping experience; from voice to mobile to desktop.

If you have your sights set on voice, like the more than 50% of retailers currently do and want an alternative to Alexa, you’ll have better ROI investing in native voice experiences that benefit your own brand. Companies like Voysis are helping brands do just that. But more importantly, no matter what route you choose, it’s important to have an omni-channel strategy. Offering in-store deals that are better than Amazon’s online ones simply aren’t enough. Your mobile, digital and voice strategies should all align around your customers, providing them the best experience when interacting with your brand. At a time where the fight for customer loyalty is at its highest, the time is now to build relationships that matter.


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