Guest post by Oxana Gouliaéva, Voice strategy consultant, co-author of “La révolution des assistants vocaux” (Dunod, 2020)

Voice commerce is currently the least widespread, but the most desirable use of voice. Far behind media access (news, music, podcasts), entertainment (quizzes and games), information requests (simple questions) and smart home control, it attracts a lot of interest from traditional retailers, e-merchants, and brands. Their interest is particularly stimulated by Amazon’s Alexa, the market-leading voice assistant in the USA. According to Voicebot.ai, by 2019 more than 40% of smart speaker users had used them for product searches.

Voice can facilitate any step of the customer journey, but prior creation of a unique customer account, via a website or mobile app, is generally necessary. Among the purchases made using voice, the most common are meal orders, taxi/private chauffeur payments, groceries, and household products, but also books, clothes, public transit, and cinema tickets. According to the same joint study by Voicebot.ai and Voysis, the average amount of purchases already made is far from negligible: while most often the amount does not exceed $50, 5.9% of buyers report purchases over $200. Consumers are even willing to consider voice for travel reservations.

Although voice can be integrated into brand websites and mobile apps, examples of these are somewhat rare. Usually, developing a Google Action or an Alexa Skill becomes the first step of the voice experience for businesses, and also an opportunity to actively communicate on it. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are changing their routines, creating and reinforcing new online buying behaviors and habits, which also includes more use of voice assistants. Let’s see how voice could be more effectively integrated in business strategies.

Voice Throughout the Sales Funnel

Here we consider some use case examples corresponding to each stage of voice shopping, from the top of the sales funnel to after-purchase service.

Discovery: Knowledge and Image

The Chompers Skill for Alexa, sponsored by Procter & Gamble’s brand Oral-B, features the Tooth Fairy who teaches children about dental hygiene. The brand indirectly works on its image through this commercial-free two-minute audio show.

Recipedia is a catalog of kitchen recipes, adapted to voice and developed by Unilever for Alexa.

The e-merchant OTTO was among the first in Germany to partner with Google in 2017. Users could ask the brand directly about several topics: ‘What’s new today? What are the current promotions?’

Consideration: Shopping List

In Fall 2017, the French grocery store chain Monoprix was the first food retailer to launch a help service allowing loyal customers to create their shopping list on Google Assistant. They could add products simply by chatting with the Assistant, which then put everything in a list accessible from their smartphone or customer account. The choice is guided by purchase history or the most popular items in the category.

Transaction

In the US, over 50% of Domino’s Pizza revenues are from online sales. All ordering methods, including orders via voice assistants, require the creation of an Easy Order account on the Domino’s Anyware site launched in 2015. The customer can register their address, means of payment, and also preselect their favorite pizzas. To place an order by voice, they simply follow the assistant’s instructions and validate payment. Voice-enabled transactions are accessible to a limited group of existing customers with known preferences only. 

During the 2018 festive season, Swedish retailer H&M developed its H&M Home Gift Guide voice app for the US market, in partnership with Google. It allowed consumers to browse the entire gift catalog on their smartphone, order via the virtual assistant, and pay with Google Pay.

In late 2019, Easyjet integrated voice booking into its UK mobile app, using Google’s NLP technology. Its promise is to allow customers to book a flight by voice, rather than on the smartphone screen where the operation requires no fewer than twelve clicks.

Post-Purchase Service

In Germany, since its launch in 2017, the Foodora Skill for Alexa allows users to track food orders placed via the Skill itself, the website, or the mobile app. The voice app has a sense of humor: when asked ‘Alexa, ask Foodora where my order is’, she can reply ‘The delivery man will arrive in three minutes, just enough time for you to put your pants on.’

In France, household appliance chain Darty used a Google Action to deliver its after-purchase service. The experience is cross-channel: the customer is recognized with all their purchases, their physical, digital and phone journeys. They can speak to describe their issues with the purchased product and be called back by a technician to avoid waiting on the phone.

Given the behavioral changes already in motion, the progressive launch of smart speakers on new markets and a rapid adoption of voice technology, these use cases could inspire e-commerce players and brands to make more effective use of voice in their strategies for years to come.

ReadSpeaker creates custom voices for leading brands. Please contact us if you’re interested in an exclusive custom voice for your voice commerce application: https://www.readspeaker.ai/contact-us.