Millions of people around the globe have a digital assistant on their phone, or in their home with a smart speaker. If you’re one of these people, you already know how useful and convenient they can be. Whether you’re instructing Alexa to purchase an item from your shopping list, asking Siri where the nearest coffee shop is or telling Cortana to play your new favorite album, organizing your life with natural language processing technology has never been easier. And as voice assistants become more common, they're having an impact on ecommerce. According to Google, 20% of all mobile searches are executed using voice commands, and 62% of people who regularly use a voice-activated device feel that they are likely to make a purchase through voice commands in the next month. So - what does voice search mean for ecommerce? Read on for a few things you should know.
Consumers are increasingly turning to voice-assisted technology for their everyday needs, and there are some distinct trends emerging. A recent study conducted by the Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute showed that over two-thirds of users appreciate that voice search/artificial intelligence (AI) can cultivate a more personalized shopping experience. A majority of users say they prefer voice assistants to human interaction in a retail setting, especially from a customer service standpoint. The speed of response, accuracy, and ease of conversation are important and add a level of convenience and comfort to the user. Users also list recommendations based on their purchase history and preferences as a major advantage over human interaction.
Savvy online retailers have picked up on this growing trend. By focusing on implementing AI integrations and improving site search functionality, they are able to provide information and context through voice search for a more user-friendly experience. Current technology allows voice assistants to go beyond simple word recognition and actually understand a user's intent and habits. And ecommerce brands looking to build more personal relationships with their customers can take advantage of the seamless conversational interface a smart speaker or personal digital assistant provides. As AI technology improves and expands, the more tailored an individual’s ecommerce experience will become.
So - what can merchants do to make sure their voice search strategy is set up for success? First, do your research. To create a great consumer experience, retailers need to understand their customer's needs and preferences - not only surrounding their product, but their technological and purchasing habits, as well. Many consumers still feel that security is a concern when it comes to voice search, and may hesitate from adopting voice assistant technology regularly as a result. Take proactive steps to ensure the privacy and security of consumer data, and make those actions apparent throughout your customer journey. Focusing on organic conversation and personalization is a sure way to create a positive consumer experience and generate business. Most importantly? Make it easy for consumers using voice search to find the information they need, and make a purchase when they’re ready. That means optimizing for natural language search queries (how we phrase searches when we’re talking instead of typing), focusing on more conversational long-tail keywords, generally abiding by SEO best practices, and making sure you have content on your pages that is helpful, descriptive, and easy for voice search integrations to read.
It’s clear that voice search has had a major impact on ecommerce, and that impact will only continue to grow. With that growth comes a significant opportunity for ecommerce brands to interact with their customer base in exciting and innovative new ways. Investment and ideation in the voice search space has increased as more consumers adopt smart speakers and personal voice assistants. As AI and voice technology advances, ecommerce brands will need to stay on top of both the trends and the technology in order to build strong relationships with their customers and drive sales.
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