Voice commerce, or the use of voice commands to search and/or purchase products online, is becoming increasingly popular in our daily lives. The presence of AI-voice assistance has become the new normal, with more than 1 billion devices worldwide equipped with technology such as the Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and other voice assistants from Microsoft, Samsung, or the rapidly expanding Chinese ecosystems. The predictions show that voice assistance is expected to continue to grow in the upcoming years, as the technology increasingly becomes a requirement in smartphones, cars, domestic appliances etc. This brings us to the question: will voice assistance have a place in the context of e-commerce?
Currently, retailers and service providers who have a lot of contacts with consumers via call centres are looking at voice options to improve processes and reduce costs. Additionally, chatbots are increasingly proactively entering into dialogue with consumers. It is expected that voice will become the next big change in user interface. Compared with the evolution of the Internet, voice provides an easy, natural and fast way to receive information about products and services and even acquire them.
While voice remains the form, the underlying data intelligence is the driver of making interactions feel real and personalised and thus deepen consumer relationships. Providing interactive dialogue for consumers presents businesses with the possibility to develop their brand identity through the personality of their digital assistant. Given the rapid technological developments we are experiencing, the use of voice and interactive dialogue provides companies with a stronger focus on consumers to meet growing consumer expectations, as well as a new underexplored form of marketing, to make their brand more recognisable and trustworthy.
However, we are only at the beginning of voice commerce and its further development is faced with a series of challenges. Therefore, Ecommerce Europe has decided to start looking into this matter and recently invited the Open Voice Network (OVN) to share their ideas with the members of Ecommerce Europe’s Platforms Working Committee. OVN is a global interest group that is committed to standards and agreements in the voice channel. OVN Founder Jon Stine explained that according to their studies, in collaboration with universities such as MIT and Stanford, it is possible that in ten years’ time we will be doing more than 60% of our interactions with devices via voice. We speak three times faster than we type, but because we read twice as fast as we listen, we are heading for a multimodal world.
According to the Open Voice Network, the main issues to be tackled relate to a “trust gap” that raises critical questions of privacy, data security, ease of use, brand protection, interoperability, and equal and unbiased access for individual and organisational users alike. They suggest closing this gap through the communal development and adoption of standards and usage guidelines. The end goal would be to enhance consumers’ trust, provide them with choice over data ownership, the possibility to switch between different providers, and the necessary inclusivity and accessibility to establish the use of voice across the market.
To find out more about the initiatives and goals of the Open Voice Network, please consult this page.