4 Reasons Why Purchasing with Voice is the Future

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As the prevalence of voice-activated technology has exploded in recent years, voice intelligence has emerged as the next frontier for creating seamless customer purchasing experiences. Year-over-year figures from Google and Amazon demonstrating this growth remain astronomically high. In May 2018, Google announced that its voice-activated search technology, Google Assistant, was available on 500 million devices, and in January 2019 the company said the technology would be available on 1 billion devices within the month. Similarly, Amazon announced in January 2019 that more than 100 million devices have been sold with the Amazon Alexa technology pre-installed. Furthermore, sales of voice-activated devices speak for themselves: worldwide smart speaker shipments reached 19.3 million units in Q3 2018, a 137% year-over-year growth since Q3 2017, according to data from Canalys.

As the velocity of the consumer expectation for frictionless purchasing continues to pick up, conversational AI approaches will naturally expand to the new model of voice-activated intelligence. This increases the importance for brands to anticipate and prepare for the impending boom within the next few years by expanding purchasing options. To understand why this model will dictate future customer experiences, we can look to a myriad of cultural and societal trends that drive consumer demands for speed and convenience:

The “Want it Now” Society

Today, every generation has become accustomed to the luxuries and efficiencies technology brings to our lives. With sales of smartphones and voice-enabled assistant devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home spanning every demo, the concept of obtaining information and making transactions quickly doesn’t only appeal to Millennials or Gen Z. A 2018 Deloitte survey revealed that searching for and requesting information was the top digital assistant capability that consumers value the most, while Google data from 2017 showed that smartphone users are 50% more likely to expect to purchase something immediately while using their smartphone compared to the previous year.

This has created a society of consumers who are used to daily automated processes catered to their convenience, from getting customized grocery delivery to making doctor appointments via specialized apps. When it comes to purchasing, whether it’s buying cleaning products or tickets to a live event, customers expect brands to provide a smooth experience that’s as seamless as possible, and works with their lives instead of requiring additional dedicated time. The more friction that the purchasing experience presents, the more likely the customer will seek out another option or jump ship for a competitor that offers a more intuitive process.

The End Of “Robotic” Robots, Driving Consumer Trust

Have you ever said “thank you” after a voice assistant completes a task for you? Studies show consumers are talking to their voice-activated devices as if they’re human. A 2018 survey conducted by Google revealed that “41% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say it feels like talking to a friend or another person.” As voice purchasing technology platforms are becoming more and more personalized and less robotic, consumers will continue to develop a deeper level of trust with these systems and have less of a need to seek out traditional purchasing options.

“Look Up” Culture Cutting Down On Screen Time

Recent studies point to a tech-connected society that could reap the benefits of less screen time. According to a survey conducted by phone-based fraud detection company Pindrop Solutions, “41% of people think that voice technology will make people stop staring at their phones.” This will come as a welcome reprieve, especially during a time when excessive phone use is interfering with basic health and wellness: a recent study from Queensland University of Technology found that consumers who display patterns of excessive phone use have trouble sleeping and are less productive (a phenomenon the researchers dubbed “technoference”). Apple and Google have also unveiled screen time monitoring innovations to help chronic screen gazers curb the habit.

With a rise in concern around time spent online and on social media, we’ll start to see a rise in consumers welcoming voice-activated assistance in place of traditional online point of sale models, that keeps their eyes off the screen and maintains quick checkouts.

Technology As a Part of Daily Life

A 2018 survey conducted by Google revealed that 72% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say they use their devices as part of a daily routine. By integrating voice intelligence as part of the purchasing process, brands are becoming part of their customers’ daily routines and fostering a deeper connection and increased brand affinity. As a result, interacting with the brand isn’t something customers feel they need to go out of their way for—it becomes part of their lives.

To prepare for the future of consumer purchasing trends incorporating voice intelligence, consider how your company can create a more frictionless engagement, informational, or purchasing experience to cater to your customers’ needs.

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