Almost 40% of consumers who own in-home assistants, such as Amazon’s Echo with Alexa virtual assistant technology, are considering using them for holiday shopping this year, according to a survey of 1,000 people commissioned by SAP about use of artificial intelligence-powered smart devices for holiday shopping. That figure has doubled from last year, SAP said in a press release.
Of that group, about 16% plan to purchase gifts for others, 15% are considering using their assistant to research deals for gifts, and another 7% would use them for purchases for themselves, according to the survey results.
The survey also found that just 17% of consumers who owned the in-home assistants last year used them for holiday shopping during the 2016 holiday shopping rush.
These survey results come about a month after Juniper Research forecasted that voice-activated smart speakers such as Amazon Echo, Google Home and Sonos One will be installed in 70 million U.S. homes by 2022 — or about 55% of U.S. households.
It's a market that, at present, Amazon dominates. Another recent study from Strategy Analytics suggested that about 68% of the 24 million smart speakers expected to be sold this year will be equipped with Amazon's Alexa virtual assistant. And, just last week, Amazon announced it will start shipping Echo to 28 new countries as part of an expansion of its Music Unlimited offering.
The notion that almost four in 10 owners of smart speakers will consider (the latter being a key word here) doing holiday shopping via these devices shows us that consumer are moving beyond just using them for home audio, home control for things like lighting and security systems, and random "Ask Alexa" kinds of questions.
But "considering" using an AI assistant for holiday shopping is not the same thing as actually using it. Voice assistant technology may need more personalization aspects and richer data to become more useful for shopping purposes, according to Johann Wrede, global vice president of strategic marketing for SAP Hybris.
That observation is backed up in other results from the survey. Only 28% of respondents said they think their virtual assistants know them well enough to recommend gift ideas. Also, when asked about the limitations of these assistants, 20% said the inability of AI assistants to determine and present visual product quality is a problem, while 19% said they simply require too much guidance for the experience to be convenient.