Procurement · 28 February 2018

Voice commerce is expected to be worth £3.5bn in just four short years

Smart speakers like Amazon Echo are expected to change the face of retail

In the UK, one in ten households already owns either an Amazon Echo or a Google Home device. How close are we to entrusting our shopping lists to our digital assistants?

One tenth of UK households own a smart speaker, and this figure is projected to rise to 48 per cent by 2022, paving the way for voice-activated devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home to become the next retail disruption. In fact, voice shopping is expected to be worth around £3.5bn by then.

According to data from OC&C Strategy Consultants, Amazon’s Echo is leading the way in voice commerce, with eight per cent of households owning one of these devices, compared to just two per cent with a Google Home device.

Currently, voice purchases are made with speed and convenience in mind – around 70 per cent of purchases are for a specific product, often a repeat order.

When browsing for items, Amazon offers recommendations based on popularity, price, deliverability etc. and 85 per cent of the time the recommendation is accepted. It is therefore in a brand’s interest to strive to become Amazon’s choice product – yet this is more easily said than done, as four-five per cent of Amazon’s “choice” products change daily due to stock or delivery speed issues.



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Another hurdle to overcome in the voice retail sector is trust – at present, only 33 per cent of consumers trust in the personalised product selection of smart speakers and only 44 per cent believe they offer the best value.

Will Hayllar, partner and global head of consumer goods at OC&C, commented: “It’s clear that shopping with voice is going to account for a substantial and growing share of the retail market, presenting both a challenge and an opportunity for businesses that can get ahead of the curve.

“There are different paths to success in the voice category. A key consideration for retailers is understanding what business objectives they want to serve, then tailoring their voice proposition accordingly.

“For consumer goods companies, the focus should be on prioritising the products most likely to be shopped through this channel. For both retailers and consumer goods businesses, assessing how their brand plays to the strengths of different ‘skills’, is also crucial to maximise their success.”

According to the Salesforce 2017 Connected Shoppers report, consumers are regularly researching merchandise before making a purchase in-store (79 per cent) and online (85 per cent). Around 40 per cent of millennials have used voice-enabled assistants such as Amazon Echo or Google Home to research items before committing to a purchase.

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Letitia Booty is a special projects journalist for Business Advice. She has a BA in English Literature from the University of East Anglia, and since graduating she has written for a variety of trade titles. Most recently, she was a reporter at SME magazine.


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