The voice assistants are coming and there is nothing you can do about it. Trust me, the genie is out of the bottle and it is never going back. Voice will bring a totally new way for users to shop and discover — one that is instant and always on, ready to listen to anything they might say.
The ongoing rise of voice assistants really comes down to two key things: the first is that the device quality is only getting better and better when it comes to recognizing our voices and providing the answers we need; the second is that manufacturers and brands continue to invest large sums of cash in device development and integration.
Let’s explore these reasons further.
When it comes to manufacturers’ investments, why would consumers care? It comes down to the fact that the ever-increasing spend on device development will lead to a point where all the products that we buy are “smart”. You will not be able to purchase a light bulb or home appliance that doesn’t have some kind of smart assistant integration. In fact, even the speakers you buy will come with voice integration, which means even if you didn’t specifically buy an assistant, you’ve ended up with one anyway.
As the quality of devices improves with each iteration, consumers will naturally start to rely on the convenience and simplicity that comes with using voice-activated devices. Consumers generally gravitate towards the path of least resistance, and once you’ve learned the ‘wake’ phrase (e.g. “Alexa” or “Hey Google”), you’ve already jumped the biggest hurdle. And as natural language processing engines get better at understanding our intent, the process is only to become smoother for consumers.
While voice assistants are poised to become the predominant buying channel for consumers, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see the traditional screen — whether that’s a computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone — disappear.
But these screens will transform into a backup option for brands; a ‘Fallback UI’. This means that most consumers will start their shopping journey on voice and — if they are buying something that needs them to double check the look, such as an expensive jacket — then they will fall back to the screen to ensure they are happy with the item. But if shoppers are buying a product and know exactly what they are getting, then it’s entirely possible that they will have a Zero UI experience. For example, I would not need a screen to purchase another pair of black Converse; I know exactly what I am doing and do not need a screen at all.
Voice Commerce also makes sense when you think about the exchange of information — we can communicate far more detail when we’re talking, than through a message or some other form of text. Voice allows us to share complex thoughts easily and more efficiently. Soon, it will feel natural to have voice assistants as the main way we interact with computers. And the big consequence of this is that brands and companies must start understanding and testing how to create great voice experiences for their customers. What is your Zero UI brand? How are you going to differentiate yourself in the sea of chatter? What will be the potential impact of this technology on your brand?
Brands need to consider these questions, and so much more, to prepare themselves for the Voice Commerce future.