Consumers have spoken with a clear voice about shopping by voice: they like it.
In fact, a new survey by Narvar shows that buying stuff by speaking into a device is up 41 percent in the last six months alone, and that shoppers are using the technology for more than just placing orders: 51 percent are speaking up to research products, 36 percent add items to their shopping lists verbally, and 30 percent track packages by asking about their shipping status. Ironically, only 22 percent presently use it to make purchases, suggesting a long runway ahead.
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Helping to drive voice shopping toward mainstream acceptance is expanding smart-speaker ownership. As of last November some 39 million American adults (16 percent) owned an Amazon Echo, Google Home or comparable device, and ownership is up 42 percent over the last six months.
But an even larger cohort of consumers, 41 percent, either shop or plan to shop by voice via the virtual assistant on their phones.
In its survey of 1,543 U.S. online shoppers, Narvar found that customers are also embracing other e-commerce adjuncts like AR, VR and chatbots. More than one-fifth of respondents (21 percent) already use AR or VR technology on their smartphones, a number that is expected to grow exponentially as retailers invest some $422 million in the technology over the next four years, representing the largest industry use case.
Meanwhile, 29 percent of consumers say they use or plan to use chatbots to shop online, and 65 percent like the technology because, unlike in-store sales associates, it’s always available.
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But all this automation doesn’t take retailers off the hook. According Narvar, which provides post-purchase online support, consumers’ expectations are rising in lockstep with their evolving shopping behaviors. For example:
- 54 percent said they would give repeat business to a retailer that accurately predicts a package delivery date;
- 77 percent would give repeat business to a retailer that re-sends lost or damaged items with expedited shipping; and
- 83 percent expect regular communication about their purchases.
“To deliver customer care at its highest level, brands will need to anticipate customers’ wants and needs, using technologies like voice and chatbots to communicate with shoppers at every point of their journey,” noted Narvar founder Amit Sharma. “The retailers that succeed in building loyalty with shoppers will be those that connect with people personally and communicate proactively.”
The complete findings are compiled in a report, “Connecting With Shoppers In The Age Of Choice,” which is available free for download.