A new voice technology integration from Unata, an enabler of digital solutions for grocers, will allow grocery retailers to offer voice ordering to their customers, according to a press release.
The new capability was developed in-house by Unata and can be used through a grocer's website or mobile app, a company spokeswoman told Retail Dive. Unata plans to showcase the voice ordering technology next week at the Shop.org Digital Retail Conference in Los Angeles.
The technology supports a number of conversation-driven shopping interactions, including comprehensive list building, updates on sales and offers specialized for the shopper, placing orders, finding store information and more, according to the company.
Retailers have entered the age of voice shopping and search, driven largely by Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant. But there is a growing list of other entrants including Google Assistant, Apple's Siri and coming soon, Samsung's Bixby.
These assistants can help shoppers search for products and place orders, and there is little doubt that voice eventually will become a dominant method for doing both. One recent study from Tractica forecasts that 1.8 billion people will be using digital assistants by 2021, and another from ComScore suggested voice searches will account for half of all Internet searches within three years.
Small and independent retailers deserve to take advantage of this technology as much as any other retailer, and in fact may need it as another arrow in their quivers as Amazon, Walmart and other giants shake up the grocery market. Walmart's partnership with Google paired with today's announcement that Walmart would be delivering groceries and other items directly into a shopper's home, raises the stakes yet again.
But smaller merchants needn't be left behind: Unata has deployed its unified shopping platform with roughly a dozen such grocers and claims to be the first in the grocery industry to offer voice-order capabilities for small- to medium-sized retailers.
Retailers don't have to have a cutely-named assistant powering a smart speaker to get into this game either, the technology works with a retailer's website or mobile app, which keeps the shopper within the online world of the independent grocer, instead of using a third party site, device or other kind of system to place orders. Unata also has integrated the voice capability with its own personalization engine, ensuring that the voice interactions will be highly personalized and relevant.
Amazon and Walmart may be fighting a war for the American shopper on a much larger scale than Unata's grocer customers can achieve, but small grocers can still win important battles on their own turf, especially by using technology to delivery customer satisfaction.