The Rise of Voice-Activated Shopping

“Alexa, order me a disco ball.”

Not too long ago, standing in your living room and requesting a purchase from the ether would gain you nothing more than a funny look. But now, voice-activated retail experiences are more than a distant possibility—they’re becoming increasingly commonplace, which means retailers need to be ready for it.

Currently, 2% of all UK consumers are already using voice-controlled devices such as Google Home and Amazon Echo for online shopping – that’s 20% of all device owners in the UK[1]. And those numbers will only continue to grow.

Amazon, Google, and Apple are still duking it out to see who will ultimately be crowned category king for voice-activated personal assistants. All three companies are currently working to make their own brand of digital assistants a more integrated part of everyday life, and the strategy is working. Amazon customers, for example, spend more money on Amazon after they buy an Echo. Customers are getting more and more comfortable doing their shopping with voice-activated devices, and retailers that plan for this behavioural evolution now will be better positioned when the technology becomes firmly entrenched in the retail experience.

Here are a couple of things that retailers should be thinking about when it comes to voice-activated retail:

It’s ushering in a new era of simple shopping.

Shopping via a voice-activated device is appealing because it’s quick, easy, and convenient. It’s a natural enabler of predictive retail. Alexa can remind you it’s time to buy more milk, or Google Assistant can suggest you buy dental floss to go with your toothpaste—and you won’t have to do anything except say “yes” to make the purchase.

As predictive technology improves, the ability of these assistants to make personalised recommendations will only get more sophisticated. Retailers are already using AI to find the exact moment when a shopper needs something—sometimes even before they realise they need it. Voice technologies will likely…