Voice Assistants to Revolutionize Commerce, Research Finds

Voice assistants will become a dominant mode of consumer interaction over the next three years, with shoppers who use the technology willing to spend 500 percent more than they currently do via this mode of interaction, analyst firm Capgemini concluded in a recent report.

Consumers are developing a strong preference for interacting with companies via voice assistants, with around a quarter (24 percent) saying they would rather use voice assistants than websites, Capgemini's Digital Transformation Institute noted in its "Conversational Commerce: Why Consumers Are Embracing Voice Assistants in Their Lives," report, which surveyed more than 5,000 consumers in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Forty percent of consumers are expected to prefer voice assistants to websites in the next three years. Additionally, 20 percent of consumers today say they prefer voice assistant interactions to visiting stores or bank branches, a number that is expected to rise to 31 percent in three years.

Voice assistants currently make up about 3 percent of total consumer expenditures today, but this is expected to increase to 18 percent in the next three years, reducing share of physical stores (45 percent) and websites (37 percent), the research found.

While streaming music and seeking information remain the most popular uses for voice assistants today, more than a third of respondents (35 percent) have also used them to buy products such as groceries, homecare, and clothes. Currently, 28 percent of users have already used voice assistants to make payments or send money, but 44 percent of users have expressed interest in using voice assistants for banking transactions as more smart speakers enable functions such as credit card payments via voice.

Consumers who use voice assistants are very positive about their experience, with 71 percent being satisfied with their voice assistants. In particular, 52 percent of consumers cite convenience, the ability to do things hands-free (48 percent), and automation of routine shopping tasks (41 percent) as the biggest reasons why they prefer using voice assistants over mobile apps and websites.

The ability for the voice assistant to understand their human user is also critical: 81 percent of users want the voice assistant to understand their diction and accent. The report also revealed that voice assistants are most popular among 33-45 year olds, while close to one in five (17 percent) have an annual pre-tax household income of more than& $100,000.

Companies that provide good voice assistant experiences will generate more business and positive word-of-mouth communication, the report also said, noting that 37 percent of voice assistant users would share positive experiences with friends and family, and even 28 percent of current non-users would want to transact more frequently with companies following positive experiences. This equates to serious potential financial gain, as consumers are willing to spend 5 percent more with companies following good experiences with voice assistants.

"Voice assistants will completely revolutionize how brands and consumers interact with each other. What makes voice assistants so exciting is that they are woven into the fabric of our lives, offering a simplicity and richness of interaction that consumers have never experienced before," said Mark Taylor, chief experience officer in the digital customer experience practic, at Capgemini, in a statement. "Brands that are able to capitalize on the huge consumer appetite around voice assistants will not only build closer relationships with their customers, but create significant growth opportunities for themselves."

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