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Kohl’s spurs impulse purchases with in-app voice search

Kohl’s is cementing its status as an early adopter of mobile technologies by integrating voice search functions into its application, enabling users to skip browsing hundreds of inventory items and find products more easily, potentially resulting in greater impulse buys.

The Kohl’s mobile app now offers voice search capabilities for users, allowing them to tap the designated magnifying glass button and say the name or type of the product for which they are searching. Shoppers will then be presented with a list of exact or similar products they can purchase within seconds, showcasing the massive convenience potential of this mobile-first feature.

“It’s still pretty early days for mass adoption of voice search in apps,” said Adam Fingerman, chief experience officer and co-founder of ArcTouch. “But from a consumer adoption standpoint, now’s the time to prioritize voice.

“Google and Apple have heavily promoted voice with Google Now and Apple’s Siri for the past year – and with it, users are fast becoming more comfortable with voice search. From a retailer point of view, adding a prominent microphone/voice UI element within an app is a great way to get people to the merchandise more quickly.”

Optimizing purchasing tools
Kohl’s steadily updates its app with new features every few months, highlighting its dedication to introducing the latest mobile technologies to augment consumers’ shopping experiences.

Earlier this spring, Kohl’s became the first retailer to integrate its private label credit card and rewards platform with Apple Pay for in-store use, pointing to the growing influence of mobile payments throughout the customer journey (see story).

Now, Kohl’s customers can take advantage of the voice search feature within the brand’s iOS or Android app. Instead of typing in a product request and sifting through tens of result pages for the desired item, shoppers can use their voice to search Kohl’s inventory and have the app do the majority of the work for them.

Once consumers open the Kohl’s app on their smartphones, they may tap on the small magnifying glass icon located atop the home screen. This action will prompt the app to ask the user if he or she would like to use scan and shop – a feature that enables mobile visual search – or search by voice.

After clicking the voice option, individuals can then say the name or type of product for which they are searching.

For example, if an individual is on the lookout for a new lamp, he or she can say “beige lamp” into their smartphone’s microphone. The Kohl’s app will then search the retailer’s inventory for in-stock beige lamps.

If the app is unsure of what the consumer asked for, it will display a list of options from which he or she can choose the correct result.

After finding the desired object, consumers can place it into their shopping carts and proceed to checkout.

The implementation of voice search capability may result in Kohl’s experiencing a barrage of impulse purchases from consumers.

If customers are searching for a specific item and are up against a limited time frame, they could be swayed to buy the product from Kohl’s if they are able to quickly find it in the app, as opposed to spending more time conducting research on other retailers’ platforms.

Mobile search on the rise
Kohl’s is not the only retailer experimenting with various in-app mobile search functions.

Best Buy recently brought an interactive spin to the catalog-browsing experience by incorporating visual search technology into its Android mobile app, allowing users to hover their device over any image and make an instant purchase (see story).

While scan-to-shop technology is another on-the-rise trend for mobile-savvy marketers, voice search is an optimal segue for brands to implement into their apps as they catch consumers up to speed with the latest shopping-friendly digital tools.

“It’s hard to say it’s a must-have feature,” Mr. Fingerman said. “What we’re really talking about is making voice search more prominent in the UI – the microphone is built into keyboards in most apps already.

“But retailers should be looking at their data about how voice searches convert into purchases and compare those conversion rates against text searches,” he said. “If they are seeing more dollars per voice search, then of course they will prioritize voice in the interface.

“With all the news around conversational interfaces – and as adoption of voice-activated home assistants like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa grow – voice is going to become a bigger part of how people engage with their technology.”