The Rise of Conversational Commerce: How Voice Commerce is Redefining Retail

By Kirsten Oelrich 3 min read

Retailers and consumer goods companies are at the cusp of transformation. The world is witnessing the first wave of the impact of conversational commerce, and the trend is expected to continue − a recent report revealed that brands relying on voice commerce to engage with consumers will considerably increase by 2020.

Conversational commerce is not just a buzzword for voice-enabled devices. It is an overarching marketing approach that goes well beyond the smart speaker and the voice assistant to deliver far-reaching business implications. It includes holistic planning to deliver on the key business imperatives of customer experience, data management, analytics and artificial intelligence, and business operations.

What makes voice technologies so popular with consumers? The answers are not hard to find. Voice technology provides users an alternative to using a mouse or keyboard to perform activities like search, purchase and order products. Customers enjoy voice services as it is hands-free, it helps in multi-tasking and it is faster at getting answers and results. These days consumers are using voice services for almost everything and through various devices like smart speakers, smartphones, desktops, laptops, tablets, and remote controls. Voice technology is quickly becoming the status quo for brands looking to reach and better engage consumers. The numbers tell the story.

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According to a recent survey, around 22% of businesses have released a voice app, 44% of businesses are planning to do the same this year and 88% of businesses will develop voice app for different platforms.

The report also states that 29% of brands now offer purchases through voice, 31% enable renewals, and 34% of brands enable customers to obtain products/services information.

In addition, 32% provide search functionality, 28% let customers check their reward status, 45% enable consumers to track their orders through voice services, 66% of businesses have increased their conversion rate and revenue and 71% of businesses agree that it can enhance user experience, increase customer loyalty and engagement.

By using voice technologies, brands are also looking at better ways to improve reach and engagement. This would enable consumers to run quick searches for product information at any time and from anywhere and drive instant purchases.

The study also revealed that 91% of businesses are making major investments in voice, while 94% plan to increase their investments next year. Brands that have embraced this new technology have a huge advantage over the others.

Voice technology has rewritten the rules of conversational commerce by changing the relationship between manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. Consumers no longer need to switch devices and keep a close tab on their online purchase journey. They can gather all the information they need about their product through a simple voice command.

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Businesses report that the biggest benefit of voice technology is having the opportunity to build highly valued relationships with their customers. It has been observed that consumers all around the globe are adopting smart speakers, faster than they adopted smartphones. Their smart speakers are mostly voice-controlled virtual assistants like Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon Echo) and Google Assistant (Google Home). These virtual assistants have enhanced the relationship between the customers and the brands by giving birth to a new, emotionally engaged interaction.

These devices and voice assistants will change shopping forever in a massive way. By 2019, more than 190 million in-home conversational devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo will be in use. However, not all interactions will be shopping-focused. Experts suggest that a large number of voice interactions will be focused on simplifying daily life through general voice queries and other things such as home automation, etc. Retailers and consumer goods companies are at the cusp of this transformation. Conversational commerce will make a tremendous impact on the lives of consumers.

The main reason why voice commerce holds great significance for businesses is that it goes beyond the perceived use of voice assistants and smart speakers. It includes a nuanced, holistic approach that focuses on customer experience, analytics, data management, artificial intelligence, and business operations. In the future, we may see voice emerging as not just another channel, but the main point of interaction for brands and customers.

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Kirsten Oelrich

Written By

Kirsten Oelrich