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Say Yes to the Dress: Voice Commerce in Retail

The future is here. Just as we’ve seen in science fiction for decades, you can now purchase products using nothing but your voice. Provided, of course, you own a smart speaker. In fact, consumers are embracing that future: 22% of people who own a smart speaker have attempted to purchase something using voice commerce. And now that 36% of consumers own some kind of smart speaker, voice commerce is morphing from fun gimmick to a significant sales channel for retailers. Many startups are springing up to bring voice commerce to retailers, like BluTag, the star of a recent Alexa fund cohort. In the age of coronavirus, consumers are searching for a contact-free experience, and voice commerce is ripe to fill that gap.


But voice commerce is far from a mature technology. Many consumers are uncomfortable buying products that they are unable to see, with the consequence that many consumers only use voice commerce for repeat purchases. Language processing is still a nascent field, and consumers also express a lack of confidence that their smart speakers are able to understand them well enough that they might purchase a product.


These problems are not insurmountable. AI and NLP is improving every year, and smart speakers are improving their ability to have natural conversations. Amazon is experimenting with integrating a visual component into their Alexa voice commerce experience, giving consumers more confidence in their purchases. And retailers are slowly integrating voice commerce into their other sales channels, creating a truly seamless experience for consumers. The technology isn’t quite there yet, but soon you can expect making a voice-enabled purchase to be an important part of the average consumer’s daily life.

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