What Consumers Like (or Don't) About Voice Shopping

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If you’re anything like me, you like to “window shop” on the web. Scroll through pictures, see what’s suggested, read reviews, and then, maybe, click the buy button. The idea of shopping using a voice assistant seems, well, strange to me. I may soon find myself in the minority, though. According to research conducted by OnBuy.com, “Voice-assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri have ushered in a new era of customer interactions with technology.” 

In the report, How voice-assistants are reshaping the way Americans shop,” analyzed findings from VoiceBot.AI, who surveyed 1,203 U.S. consumers to better understand the products and services they buy the most using a voice assistant. Everyday household items—think cleaning supplies—are the most ordered products by Americans (25.11%) through voice assistants. This makes sense, especially when you think about the popularity of Amazon’s Dash Buttons, which allow you to quickly reorder things you buy regularly, literally with the touch of a button.

Thereafter, U.S. consumers equally purchase apparel and entertainment (e.g. music, movies etc) from voice-assistants at 21.15% each. Music and movies also makes sense. Imagine listening to Spotify on your Amazon Echo, coming across a new song you like, and then asking Alexa to buy it for you. What mystifies me is the apparel category. It took me weeks of browsing—online and in-store— to finally decide on a dress to wear to an upcoming wedding. I eventually ordered a dress on a website I’d never made a purchase from before, and I relied heavily on the reviews to decide which size to order. Who are these people buying clothes without even looking at a screen?

But I’m not the only one who is still hesitant to ask Siri to do my shopping for me. Over 31% of people say they “do not yet feel entirely comfortable shopping by voice.” According to the press release, “This notion is reflected by 21.15% of Americans not warming to voice shopping because there is no screen and 16.74% believing they can type faster to get what is wanted.”

Meanwhile, it’s the hands-free experience that voice shoppers like about their virtual assistants. Over 27% pointed to this aspect when asked what they like about shopping with the help of their virtual assistants.

But if you’re a developer looking at how to bring in the reluctant voice shoppers (like yours truly), there is some hope. “For 31.1% of Americans, they would like to use a voice-assistant to help them locate products as they navigate inside a store. Subsequently, 29.5% want a voice-assistant to inform them of any available discounts or deals which will allow them to save money while in-store. 25.5% would access a voice-assistant to compare products – for instance, health-conscious consumers who want to easily compare the nutritional contents of similar food and drink goods.”

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