Digital influences every aspect of the retail business today. Examples include big data,  recommendation engines, the Internet of Things, automated warehouses, facial recognition, augmented reality, blockchain, and chatbots. Custom branded voices can help brands make a more powerful impact in retail. Find out how:

AI for enhanced customer interactions

The digital transformation trend influences everything! And the driver behind this transformation is Artificial Intelligence. AI enables retail to be more efficient, more effective, more engaging, more service oriented and, of course, more personal. The latter is extremely important. Analysts like Servion Global Solutions predicted that by 2025, 95% of customer interactions will be powered by AI.

So, what does your brand sound like when it interacts with consumers? And what will your virtual shop assistant sound like? Will it have one of the standard voices you hear everywhere, or will it have its very own voice? And what are the advantages of having your own branded voice in retail? Let’s investigate what it will be like to interact with a shop assistant in the future.

Your (virtual) shop and (virtual) shop assistant

Now, thanks to the emerging technology, online and offline shopping experiences are gradually merging. The online experience is set to become more immersive, thanks to 3D computer vision, rendering and sound. It will respond to such subtleties as the direction of a consumer’s gaze (thanks to 5G) and background music, for example. And the brick & mortar experience will include facial and voice recognition for personalized service and security. There will be recommendation terminals, smart mirrors showing how a dress, a pair of glasses or even makeup would look like on us. Not to mention 3D tools for room design, or the layout and planning of virtual furniture in customers’ homes based on a few pictures. The list of examples is endless. And in all these situations, consumers will still be browsing stores, whether these are online or offline.

But what happens when customers have questions? Offline, these would probably be handled by a shop assistant. However, the new Amazon Go concept store shows us that futuristic shops without human employees and with automated checkouts are already an option in 2020. So, whom can customers rely on if they have questions? Well, they can talk to a chatbot! These AI-powered conversational advisors are designed to appear when you need them, in a chat dialogue on a phone, tablet or laptop, a voice-only conversation via a smart speaker for example, or on one of the instore-displays. They can even be “embodied” in a (humanoid) robot, like LoweBot, a US based home improvement chain.

Actually, consumers increasingly expect to be able to ask questions using their voice. And they expect the answer to be spoken, too. Do you want to distinguish your voice from the standard voice used by the brand next door? An exclusive branded digital voice allows you to design a seamless transition through the stages of the customer journey. The number of use cases is virtually unlimited.

Retail use cases for custom voices

Welcoming: Although it can be used online, a spoken welcome message tends to be more appreciated offline: ‘Hello Sir, welcome to <retail brand>, how can I help you today?’ or a personalized message: ‘Hi Adam, shall I get you your usual cappuccino-XL?’. 

Browsing: When a consumer browses your online or offline shop, gets confused and has a question like ‘where can I find Y?’, your voice can show a floor plan with directions to a specific product. Or you could opt for lighting a path on the floor with LEDs or a robotic shop assistant like Lowebot could simply tell the consumer something like ‘Walk with me … ‘. ‘here you go! Can you imagine how a custom branded voice would contribute to the customer experience in this context?

Quick-Add: Regardless of their location, whether in the car, under the shower, or on a hike, consumers can always add something to an open shopping basket or wish list: ‘Hey <supermarket>, could you add a box of my favorite candy bars to my shopping basket?’, ‘add this book to my wish list’ or ‘reschedule my next delivery’. In all these cases, your retail brand’s familiar voice is ready to answer.

Checkout: Once the consumer has made their decision and says: ‘I’d like to check out’, your voice could say: ‘is there anything else I can help you with?’,  or: ‘would you like an extra cartridge for your new printer? We have a discounted price today’. Whether the answer is yes or no, your well-known voice confirming the sale ensures the best possible, trusted experience.

Order status: At any time, a consumer can enquire about the current status of their package. Your familiar branded voice answers (rather than the shipping company’s voice). And so you reinforce ownership of the business relationship.

Product instruction:  Once the consumer has unboxed their products, any voice-enabled device like a smart speaker, phone or television screen can be used to interact about this product. Will you provide answers in a standard voice or a voice that matches your brand’s personality? What will contribute most to the customer experience?

Returning products: If, for some reason, the consumer isn’t satisfied, they could simply say: ‘hey <retailer>, I’d like to return this item’. It would only take a small voice conversation for your AI to identify which product needs to be returned. Would you like to use your own branded voice for this, rather than a standard voice that can be heard everywhere else?

Reordering products: Oh yes, satisfied customers repeat their orders! Which voice will you be using when you ask: ‘Happy to hear that you’re satisfied with your <Product>, I’ve added two new boxes to your shopping cart, and you can expect delivery in about two days. Would you like to check out immediately?’

ReadSpeaker can help

In fact, these are only a few examples of retail use cases where a custom branded voice is preferred over standard digital voices. If you’re interested, get in touch to discuss how we could extend the benefits to your brand. We know that branded voices will play an important role in customer interaction in the world of retail in the very near future! For insights into how custom branded voices can enhance the way consumers experience your brand, check out our free eBook.

ReadSpeaker is a global synthetic speech specialist. Having built expertise in humanlike text-to-speech solutions since 1999, we currently use next-generation Deep Neural Network technology in our VoiceLab to deliver the most humanlike synthesized voices on the market to Fortune 500 companies across the world. As a subsidiary of the HOYA Corporation, with offices in 15 countries, and over 10,000 clients in 65 countries, we are recognized as the leading independent text-to-speech company.