Voice Commerce – The future of online trade?

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Phrases like "Hello Siri", "Alexa", "OK. Google" have long since become part of our everyday lives, because Apple's Siri, Samsung's Bixby, Amazon's Alexa, Google's Voice Search and Microsoft's Cortana are increasingly conquering the digital world and are almost indispensable.

The voice assistants make our everyday life easier and can, for example, answer general knowledge questions, provide information about traffic and weather, play music, manage reminders and appointments or even shop online for us through voice command. Online shopping via voice assistant falls into the "voice commerce" category.

But what is it and how exactly does it work? Why is there so much "hype" about it? What are the associated problems and what impact will the voice assistants have on the online trade of the future? These questions and many more on the topic of "voice commerce" are discussed in this blog article.

 

Voice recognition technology redefines communication

Voice commerce is a form of software application that enables buying and selling by voice-recognition. However, it fundamentally changes typical shopping behaviour and communication.

By linking Amazon Alexa to the Amazon Store, Alexa can be requested to order something online, for example. The tried and tested mouse click is replaced at this point by voice recognition technology, and this fundamentally changes the customer's purchasing behaviour.

"Customer communication via voice assistant is fundamentally different from communication via website. When using a voice assistant, there is no visual support such as pictures or videos. The customer does not have time to listen to long texts and wants to reach his destination quickly," is how e-Commerce Magazine sums this up.

  

Some statistics on voice commerce

Today, a lot of consumers in the United States already use voice assistants. According to a recent survey (from December 2017) by Worldplay and Socratic Technologies, nearly every third person already used a voice-activated devices such as Amazon Echo or Google Home to make an online purchase in the past 3 months. Nevertheless, during the survey period, 59 percent of respondents rated their experience with smart speaker commerce as excellent, with further 31 percent saying the experience was very good. Only two percent of online customers rated their experience with voice-activated devices as fair or poor:

Statistics on voice commerce

 

The big "hype" about language assistants continues

At this point, the question arises of why voice commerce is currently getting so much attention and thus creating a wave of enthusiasm: after all, the technology is still in its infancy.

Language assistants have found different uses in our day-to-day work, so why not let Alexa and Co. shop for us as well? This question has probably come up many times, which is why voice commerce has tried to provide the appropriate solution.

A short thought experiment:

You are busy washing the dishes with your hands elbow-deep in dishwater, the foam is almost overflowing and the sponge gives up after several attempts at washing. So that you do not forget to buy sponges for washing dishes – after all, you cannot actually write a reminder note with wet hands – you just tell Alexa to buy sponges online. For the next washing-up job you will have a new sponge ready.

This is just one of countless examples and shows how useful voice recognition technology can be in relation to voice commerce. In addition, this topic provides a glimpse into the future in which people like us command a computer or robot to perform tasks for us and to support us in our everyday work.

 

Difficulties with voice commerce

Voice recognition technology undoubtedly presents a difficult technological task. After all you have to "teach" the voice assistant to understand language. This, in turn, is done through commands that are integrated directly into the program. As a result, a program must first be developed that is compatible with the voice assistant so as to be able to order something online by voice command.

In addition to the app of course, payment providers must support the voice assistant. Otherwise, the payment option could be more difficult. An example of is Amazon's Alexa, which currently can only buy things in the Amazon shop and order them with the Amazon account.

In addition, the ordering process using only voice commerce might be cumbersome, since the consumer receives no visual support. At this point, it is crucial to program the voice assistant with a variety of commands, so that you get the necessary help and information for online shopping.

Another critical aspect of voice commerce is data protection. After all, many consumers who use voice assistants are at risk of becoming victims of data abuse and eavesdropping.

Of course, voice assistants have to listen constantly to be able to respond when ordered to do something. Therefore, asking consumers to specify data such as payment and bank details deters many of them. Even though manufacturers assure the public that their solutions respect the users' privacy, it remains a matter of trust whether consumers want to let manufacturers into their living rooms.

 

Operate voice commerce with Playground

Voice commerce is on the march and it is becoming more and more important not only to us as consumers, but also for companies.

In order to adapt and take on a leading role, we spent a lot of time thinking about how to expand online shop software and make it compatible with voice recognition technology. "With Shopware Playground we are ready for the future because we want to be prepared for what the future will bring. 'Visionary' is one of our three corporate values, which is why we have set ourselves the task of creating forward-looking eCommerce solutions. For this reason, it is a personal challenge to explore this technology and to invest in it," explains Daniel Nögel, Product Manager Enterprise in Research & Development at shopware AG.

To operate voice commerce with the new Shopware Playground technology is thus technically possible, the course has already been set.

 

Summary & outlook

Voice assistants are currently used by half of all consumers, and in future the number will rise sharply, that is already certain.

In addition, voice recognition technology is constantly being expanded and established, not least voice commerce, which is perceived as more and more topical and is already being actively used in some households. There is a veritable "hype" about voice commerce, as this technology provides a significant insight into the future.

Even if there are still some difficulties, voice commerce is a hot topic that is likely to revolutionise the online commerce of the future and that we will also explore even more closely.

"We expect a future where eCommerce will be omnipresent and no longer reduced to the classic 'Webshop'. The 'Internet of Things' has already arrived in the form of "smart loudspeakers" in many of our homes, and this trend will continue to an extreme extent in the future – allowing for new points of contact between retailers on the one hand and consumers on the other" concludes Stefan Hamann, Managing Director and CEO of shopware AG.