Voice Commerce: How Voice Ordering is Revolutionizing Ecommerce Trends
More than one-third of US households have a voice assistant in their home, and about one-quarter regularly use voice ordering to make a purchase.
As voice technology keeps improving with innovations like ChatGPT and forward-thinking retailers pushing the boundaries, more consumers will find their groove with voice.
Is your ecommerce set up to take advantage of this trend?
Find out how voice ordering is changing ecommerce and what you can do to stay ahead of the voice trend in our latest post.
How Voice Ordering Is Changing Ecommerce Forever
Voice ordering is still a relatively new ecommerce trend. But thanks to the convenience of ordering through a smart device or smartphone, consumers are starting to use voice assistants to buy things more regularly.
Globally, voice commerce has skyrocketed over the past two years. The value of ecommerce transactions initiated through voice assistants rose by over 400% from 2021 to 2023.
What’s more telling is how swiftly voice technology evolves. No longer is voice search ecommerce about developing for a single platform or device.
With new systems and more advanced natural language processing, voice ordering will only get more sophisticated over time, pushing ecommerce businesses to be even more creative, flexible, and customer-focused with voice.
What Is Voice Commerce?
Before voice ordering, there was voice search, which is when someone searches for information online using a voice assistant.
Voice search impacted the way marketers approached search engine optimization (SEO). They started optimizing for voice search queries such as, “Where’s the closest grocery store?” or “What’s the best toy store in Chicago?”
Voice ordering or voice commerce is when someone orders a product through a voice assistant or another type of voice technology.
“Hey Alexa, I want to buy a new pair of shoes.”
How Does Voice Search Ecommerce Work?
Voice ordering works through voice assistants like Amazon Alexa, Siri, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Assistant. These technologies use natural language processing (NLP) software to understand what a customer is saying and initiate an action.
NLP is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) that learns as it analyzes data. For example, with AI-enabled voice technology, a smart speaker or voice ordering system can learn a customer’s preferences by analyzing past orders and search history. The technology can then make recommendations and allow for easy voice re-ordering.
Take Starbucks and its My Starbucks Barista technology, for instance, which the coffee company introduced in 2017.
With this tool, customers can place an order through their smartphone or another voice-activated technology. Once they establish their favorite drink, they can use voice to re-order their half-caf double vanilla soy latte with any Alexa-enabled device, including vehicles with voice-activated software.
How Voice Ordering Has Evolved
What started as a way to make search more convenient, when Google rolled out Voice Search in 2011, has become a way for customers to interact with companies — they can ask questions, have their customer service needs met, and shop.
In 2021, we started seeing AI voice ordering in the drive-thru lane. In 2022, almost one-quarter of consumers in the US used voice to buy something.
And in 2023, AI companies like SoundHound started developing ways to make voice ordering even more natural so people don’t have to wake up their voice assistant with a “Hey Siri” or “Hey Google”.
With the prevalence of more voice-enabled technology — with smartphones, smart homes, smart speakers, and smart cars — we should expect to see far more voice commerce in the future.
Benefits of Voice-Enabled Shopping
Voice ordering is more than a trend. It offers many benefits over other methods. Here are three of them:
Better User Experience
Voice ordering is simply more convenient and less time-consuming than other methods.
There’s no need to type or enter information online. No walking up to a counter or calling a business to make an order. Just a simple command and someone can expect a pizza, a new outfit, or almost anything delivered to their door.
As a touch-free ordering method, it’s also more accessible for people with disabilities.
Potentially More Secure
Personal devices can learn a user’s voice. Once someone sets up a voice print with their device, as with a fingerprint, the device can’t be used by someone else. This benefit can help to prevent fraud in ecommerce shopping.
Deeper Customer Insights
Voice search generates really useful data that ecommerce brands can use to better understand customer preferences, habits, and pain points. This information can be used to better personalize the buyer's journey.
Why Isn’t Voice Assistant Shopping More Popular?
Considering how easy and convenient it is, uptake isn’t as high as it could be. That’s because, like any new and evolving ecommerce technology, there are challenges.
Voice Ordering Comes with Privacy and Security Concerns
Even though there’s the potential for being more secure, there are concerns over how data is held and shared. One study found that 41% of voice assistant users have concerns over data privacy and security.
Consumer Adoption Isn’t High Enough
Consumer use of voice search is high, but it’s not high enough, and not everyone is using voice technology to shop. In 2022, half of American consumers were using voice search features at least once a day. However, only about 14% of digital shoppers used voice to order products online.
There Are UX Issues with Voice
The other challenge is the technology itself. There are limitations to what you can order. Also, the AI isn’t perfect, and mistakes happen. Although voice word accuracy rates are high, a PwC study found that 35% of consumers say their smartphone "often doesn't understand me," and 26% said the same thing about smart speakers. These issues can cost consumers the time and convenience they hoped to gain from using voice in the first place.
Tips for Optimizing for Voice Search for Ecommerce
If the notion of preparing for voice ordering seems a bit daunting to you, here's some good news: Many of the best practices for good old-fashioned SEO are best practices for voice search, too. Namely:
- Site Speed. Simple. Faster is always better, and the same applies to voice search.
- Featured Snippets. You've seen these blocks of content at the top of search results pages (SERPs), which feature answers to questions typed in search. They're also perfect for answering searches made via voice.
- FAQs. If there are questions your customers ask frequently, it would be a best practice to answer them on your FAQ page. These same questions are now being asked of voice assistants. Having a detailed and thorough FAQ page is just as vital for v-commerce as it is for ecommerce.
- Blogging. Having blog posts with titles that reflect the kinds of words and phrases your customers are using in search works wonders for both browser search and voice search.
- Writing for humans. Content on your website should be more conversational to align with voice search queries.
Customizable ecommerce platforms like BigCommerce make it easy for store owners to optimize their SEO, which will be key in providing a customer-friendly voice experience now and in the future. The platform also features integrations with several apps enabling voice interactions.
How Will Voice Ordering Impact Ecommerce in the Future
As more people try voice ordering, usage will continue increasing. New technologies are also making voice more sophisticated, secure, and convenient. For instance, with ChatGPT, ecommerce businesses can improve the user experience even more by offering more personalized interactions and shopping suggestions.
Some brands, like our client, Next Level Apparel, are using chat features that work with voice to improve the customer experience.
Also, technology is making voice more secure and easier to integrate with ecommerce platforms. Today, merchants can integrate with tools like Blutag Alexa Notifications, which lets you create your own Alexa Skill so customers can order through your website using a voice ordering system.
Add Voice Ordering to Your Ecommerce Shopping Experience
Voice ordering continues to get more user-friendly and more popular. As both voice-activated systems and the AI-enabled software that processes voice data evolve, voice will become even more streamlined in the future.
You can add voice ordering to your ecommerce shopping experience now. Through integrations with voice tools, chatbot capabilities, Alexa Skills, and creative ecommerce customizations, you can offer customers the ability to order your products using nothing but their voice.
Contact us today to find out how the web development experts at Guidance can help you unlock the power of voice technology at your store.