Artificial intelligence has the power of transforming anything remotely stupid into an intelligent object! Yes, AI has been doing this for quite some time now and with the rise of voice assistants, things have become more exciting. Businesses around the world, have now understood the importance of “Voice Commerce”.
It all began with speech-to-text technology developed by Google. ‘Google Voice Search’ has been launched for iPhones, this advance app utilized data centers so that it can easily compute data and can analyze data, this is actually a good example of human speech.
Then in 2010, it introduced personalized recognition on its Android platform, which can record the voice of different user’s voice requests and develop a response based on the machine learning technique. It consists of 230 billion English words and a Google engine to help it provide the relative response.
Soon, Apple’s Siri was invented which was based on cloud computing as well and then Amazon’s Alexa which ascertained that Voice assistants are not only a digital toy anymore or just an experiment but are now an economical ecosystem itself.
Voice Assistants for Retail:
Voice Assistants is a broad term and refers to the conversational agents that perform different tasks for an individual or a user, whether it is functional or social in nature by interpreting the voice command and context of the request. The software base of such intelligent objects has a combination of AI technologies like Automatic Speech Recognition(ASR), Text to Speech synthesis(TTS), Natural Language Understanding(NLU), to engage in the natural level of conversation with the users.
Such a category of Internet of Things(IoT) devices goes under various names that include smart speaker, AI assistant, intelligent personal assistant, personal digital assistant, voice-controlled smart assistant, voice-activated intelligent assistant), and conversational agent. All these devices are actively used in the market and are now exploited to make consumers shop for promoted products over their platforms.
Assistance for Shoppers:
As per one of the recent surveys, more than 3.25 billion digital voice assistants being used in this digital world and it is estimated to jump to 8 billion units by 2023, which is more than the total population on earth at this time. If you consider figures of the United States alone, there are almost 111.8 million digital voice assistant users with an average usage of once per month.
Voice assistants can take several forms as of in a mobile device or a Bluetooth speaker like “Alexa” or built-in software agents like “Cortana” or “Catalina” in smartphones and computers.
The most popular functions for Voice assistants accessed by users are playing music, controlling smart home appliances, providing weather information, answering general knowledge questions, and setting alarms.
But, with recent developments in AI technologies and machine learning, the use of voice assistants for commercial usage has increased. Today, digital assistants are considered as a novel touchpoint that allows for new forms of interaction between consumers and brands.
Voice commerce is helping its users in placing orders online using voice assistants. The number of consumers who are using smart speakers for their purchases is increasing rapidly and percentage buyers using virtual assistants are not limited to one category of products and rather vary in a wide range of products. Statistically, about 21% of the US smart speaker owners have bought music or movies and 8% have purchased household items. We have already seen Amazon’s “Alexa” offering household products and fresh food items from local wholefood stores and deliver them on a daily basis within a short span of period.
There are three powerful attributes of the voice assistants that have helped the e-commerce market attract more consumers towards purchases through the voice assistants and its related technologies.
- Natural Conversation: We already know that voice assistant is built to mimic or copy human-to-human interactions on the basis of personal relationships, these devices use interlocutors to react when they are asked. The most fascinating part is where these devices remember each past interaction just like any human would and sometimes better than humans and continue the conversation. It can even wear personas and act like one while interacting.
- Context Awareness: Whenever we interact with each other it is the understanding of a situation that defines the context of our interaction and to this point virtual assistant show exquisite awareness to a user’s context. It accounts for, demographics, time, purchase history, preferences and financial state of a user to put all of them into a context and respond accordingly.
- Self-learning: Self-learning is voice assistants learning errors and misinterpretations of any interaction to rectify them for their next interaction. There are unsupervised machine learning techniques employed by these voice assistants that allow them to understand, learn and rectify errors without the use of human interventions.
Voice Assistants as Sales Agents:
The intelligence of these devices is exploited to understand the user pattern and behavior to recommend effective targets and specific products for users. These devices can be used extensively instead of conventional decision-making methods to get a better hold of the user preferences. Users evaluate these devices on the basis of personalized products and recommendations that are nearest to their needs and requirements.
The effective recommendation method can not only provide higher consumer satisfaction and a personalized experience but, can help the organizations to reach higher sales targets and better business goals. It is though an important factor to keep the organizational goals in the programming of these devices very clear to engulf them into their recommendations and create an amalgamation of the user’s preference and business goal.
The Voice commerce paradigm has made a relatively giant leap towards e-commerce dominance and brands all over the world need to understand and build high-end APIs and digital products to integrate this technology and for this, they should work in sync with mobile app development service that provides real-time responsive APIs. Though many giant e-commerce enterprises are the once producing such voice assistants, take an example of Amazon for instance as their VA called “Alexa” is a market leader and Amazon as an e-commerce service leads the market.
Impact of Voice Commerce over Shoppers, Retailers, and Brands:
- Brands get more exposure through effective voice ads on voice assistants.
- Shoppers can now choose from several categories without even a peek at their smart devices through effective recommendations from voice assistants.
- Retailers can place their products more effectively and strategically using the patterns identified by voice assistants.
- Brands can design more personalized products to integrate voice assistants and their usage patterns.
- Shoppers can receive recommendations that are precisely personalized according to their needs and requirements.
- Retailers can promote their offers and promotions through streaming services over these voice assistants to lure more buyers.
- Brands can collaborate with such voice assistant producers to integrate their products with intelligent systems to exploit the market.
- The speech recognition and self-learning capabilities can be made more error-free to induce more faith by the shoppers into brands and their products.
- Marketing strategies can be built around voice technologies by brands and retailers to reach more customers.
- This can change the economics of advertising and marketing for firms with more clarity on the demand and supply ratio.
Voice assistant can prove to be more effective in the current e-commerce market and its dominance over intelligent gadgets. As Artificial Intelligence related technologies evolve, voice assistants are bound to take center stage in consumer-brand interactions and make the conversations more fruitful for organizations and equally satisfying for the users.
Recent trends suggest that the machine intelligence and its unsupervised self-learning capabilities have attracted many researchers and experts lobbying its widespread usage for marketing and advertising strategies to overcome soaring costs of these marketing strategies and reach more consumers with the most personalized customer journeys that can build consumer-brand relationships for a longer span of period. Hence, it is not a myth or fantasy but a reality that voice commerce is dominating the e-commerce market.