- Online fashion retailer Asos now lets customers use verbal commands to shop on the voice-controlled Google Assistant. By saying, "Hey, Google, talk to Asos" to a Google Home smart speaker or the digital assistant's app on Android or iOS, U.S. and U.K. customers can start a conversation with Enki, the Asos shopping guide, according to a press release shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Enki, which also responds to text commands, aims to help shoppers find new clothing items among the online store's 85,000 products and the 5,000 new items added each week.
- The Enki chatbot has several features including Style Match that lets shoppers search for products using photos from the web or those taken with a phone camera. Asos this year tested the Enki chatbot on Facebook Messenger in the U.K.
Asos gears its production selection toward 20-somethings, an age group that's more likely than older generations to test out the latest innovations such as voice tech and conversational commerce. Almost all millennials (92%) have made online purchases via a smartphone, compared with 75% of Generation Xers and 33% of baby boomers, per a survey by Bronto, an email marketing unit of Oracle.
In addition, while 25% of U.S. households had a smart speaker by the end of Q2 2018, shopping is not as popular an activity on voice-powered devices compared with listening to music or getting weather information, per a Nielsen survey. However, about one-fifth (21.2%) of U.S. adults have engaged in voice shopping activities like searching for a product, comparing items, asking for prices or making a direct purchase, a Voicebot.ai and Voysis study found. The slow uptick in voice shopping is forecast to surge to $40 billion by 2022 (from $1.8 billion last year) in the U.S. and to $5 billion (from $200 million) in the U.K., OC&C Strategy Consultants estimate.
Google is expanding the range of devices that work with Google Assistant and is adding new capabilities to its voice platform. The company this week said Google Assistant soon will answer questions from the lock screen of an Android phone, removing friction of requiring users to enter a password or scan a fingerprint before unlocking the function. The new capability means that Android phones will respond to commands like "Hey Google, show me my unread emails," and users can more easily access voice-powered apps and functions like those created by companies like Asos.
The new feature comes the same week as the fashion retailer faces criticism amid claims that Asos bans shoppers who report missing deliveries, per Yahoo Style. U.K. reality TV star Lucy Mecklenburgh complained to her 1.6 million Twitter followers that Asos had refused to grant a refund and blocked her from shopping on the site after she reported that an order hadn't been delivered. Mecklenburgh's tweet spurred an onslaught of complaints about Asos, which later apologized and let the celebrity shop again. That incident demonstrates the power social media, where some celebrities and social influencers have a bigger following than businesses, can have on a brand like Asos.