Voice interactions are slowly but surely gaining a foothold in ecommerce and becoming a convenient way to use technology. You don’t need to navigate a website or search for information by keying in text anymore. You can simply ask a question to your voice assistant and within seconds, you have the information at your fingertips. Learn how leading technology companies like Google and Amazon are battling it out to dish out better voice assistants and become the ‘go to’ device at home.
The Rise of Virtual Personal Assistants
By the end of 2016, people were seen downloading and actively using fewer number of apps than what was reported in 2015. Customers have grown weary of installing multiple apps for various tasks and needs. The shift is towards voice interactions.
The post-app era that we are seeing right now will lead to an increase in the use of virtual personal assistants (VPAs). People want easy access to information and products, without having to type out their requests or demands. Customers would readily adopt VPAs to perform tasks like setting the alarm or to search for specific information as it is effortless and eliminates the need to type, click or push buttons.
Using human language, devices should be able to understand the request and respond. According to a recent blog, citing Gartner research:
“Apple’s Siri and Google Now are currently the most widely used VPAs on smartphones. Today, VPAs are fulfilling simple tasks such as setting the alarm or retrieving information from the web, but are tipped to begin carrying out more complex tasks, such as completing transactions, in the near future. For example using a VPA to delegate tasks such as booking a hotel or flight, to a third-party bot.”
Voice Assistants Can Offer A Personalized, Satisfying User Experience
Voice assistants will help customers find what they need instantly, without the need to spend time looking for products or navigate the retail store website. When voice assistants meet with customer needs using the natural language interaction method through voice interactions, it will create a positive, satisfying customer experience.
For instance, Echo’s connection with Uber makes it possible to book a ride using voice interaction, without the need to open the Uber app, navigate the menu option and click on icons to book a ride.
You Can Use Amazon’s Alexa To Buy Stuff and Order A Pizza
Amazon having launched Echo in November 2014, has taken the lead in voice interactions. By the end of November 2016, Amazon Echo device is said to have enjoyed 7m in sales, indicating that the war to control homes has just begun.
Charles Arthur said in a recent Guardian article:
“Amazon is in the lead, having launched the Echo in November 2014, two years before Google Home came out. Though Amazon has not – and does not – release sales figures for any individual item, investment bank Morgan Stanley estimates that 11m Echos had been sold by the end of November 2016; other estimates suggest a further 7m have been sold since. About 700,000 were estimated to have been sold in the UK and Germany, the only countries outside the US where it is available.”
Amazon’s Alexa at the moment allows you to play music, control home devices and even place orders of products, frequently ordered on Amazon.
Skills Allow Amazon Echo To Multi-Task
Skills are nothing but applications that allow Amazon Echo to play music, set an alarm or timer or answer general questions, simply by talking to Amazon Echo device. With more than 7000 skills available in the market, Amazon clearly is ahead of the competition. The number of skills keep increasing with every passing day. The possibilities are endless.
Michael Quoc said in a recent article:
“While the most common uses of the device include playing music, making informational queries, and controlling home devices, Alexa (the device’s default addressable name) can also tap into Amazon’s full product catalog as well as your order history and intelligently carry out commands to buy stuff. You can reorder commonly ordered items or even have Alexa walk you through some options in purchasing something you’ve never ordered before.”
Artificial Intelligence To Transform The Shopping Experience
In January this year, Starbucks introduced a new feature in its phone app, allowing customers to order their morning coffee by voice. A virtual barista who asks questions to the customers helps them place the order.
Transforming the shopping experience for customers through voice interactions, robots can now answer and guide shoppers by answering their questions. The hardware store, Lowe’s uses LoweBot, a robot that can speak multiple languages and provides answers to questions posed by customers.
Emilie Vesilind said in a recent article:
“Robots, A.I.’s splashiest application, are also making their way into retail. Last year, hardware store Lowe’s introduced the LoweBot—a robot created to answer basic questions that speaks multiple languages. The robots use a 3-D scanner to detect people, and shoppers search for products by asking questions or typing inquires onto their touch screens. The LoweBot can even answer that most pressing of shopper questions: Where’s the bathroom?”
Developers To Rely On Open APIs For Third Party Connections To Voice Assistants
As third party connections to voice assistants increase, developers will need to rely on open APIs to personalize customer experience. As the number of connections increase, developers will find programming complex.
John Rakowski, director of technology strategy at AppDynamics, said in a recent article:
“Those looking to link up to these assistants will rely on open APIs, the publicly accessible part of an application, to accommodate transfers of data and personalise the experience for the consumer. APIs certainly have their benefits, opening up more possibilities to developers than ever before, but they present significant programming challenges too.”
Brands that take advantage of this technology can reap rich dividends through their ecommerce transactions. Partnering with voice assistants to deliver personalized experiences to customers will eventually explode.
What The Future Holds For Voice Assistants
When looking for specific information at present, customers need to navigate, choose the appropriate sections of a website or key in search terms. Will this have a radical change, making search simple when voice interactions drive solutions? Will the onus of understanding customer intent be on the device, rather than the people? Only time will tell. For now, you can rely on Alexa to reduce the temperature, book a ride or play your favorite radio station.