- Voice commerce by smart home devices is starting to gain momentum, with 26% of the owners of smart speakers reporting that they have made a purchase by voice, according to a report by Voicebot.ai and voice platform developer Voysis. Voice shopping on smart speakers has become a habit for 16% who said they make purchases monthly. Adjusted for the total population, 21% have tried voice commerce.
- Although the report noted initial skepticism about consumer use of voice commerce, 16.5% of the total population said they are likely or very likely to use voice to order products. Despite a wide advantage in use, Android trails iOS in voice commerce, with iPhone owners 8.5% more likely to make such a purchase.
- The top three categories for voice shopping are everyday household items, apparel and entertainment. On smartphones, Apple's Siri is the most widely used voice assistant, but Google Assistant is gaining rapidly, the report said.
Expectations for voice shopping via smart devices have ranged from enthusiastic to restrained. For example, while consulting company Capgemini predicted that 40% of consumers will use a voice assistant as an alternative to a mobile app or website within three years, a study by Episerver pointed out that very few consumers now use the devices to make purchases. According to Episerver, 39% of consumers own a smart speaker, but 60% never browse the internet with one, and fewer use it to buy anything.
The new report from Voicebot and Voysis stakes out a middle ground, noting that the potential for voice commerce was originally downplayed, but its use has achieved significant success and there is ample room for it to grow. A study by OC&C Strategy Consultants reported that it will increase to $40 billion in 2022 from $2 billion today.
By using voice assistants on their mobile devices, consumers are becoming more comfortable with the idea of purchasing by voice. The Voicebot/Voysis report noted that 76.6% of iPhone users have tried Siri, while 42.7% of Android smartphone users have tried Google Assistant, with that number increasing quickly. Among consumers who use voice search to shop, Google Assistant was more popular with 14% of respondents to a survey by RichRelevance compared to 9% for Amazon's Alexa.
"We're seeing consumers gravitating towards the platforms they're most comfortable using to shop, which are mobile and web," Ryan MacInnis, director of marketing at Voysis said in the press release. "Our research showed that although the majority of news has covered smart speakers, most voice commerce activity is happening on the devices that over 90% of the world has access to." Brands need to start thinking about their voice strategy, which is a much bigger opportunity than just creating skills for Alexa, he added.
Nearly 22% of U.S. adults now have access to a smart speaker, with a total of smart speaker users has risen to 54.4 million U.S. consumers that now have access to such a device, according to the report. Consumers owning an average of 1.8 devices, although two-thirds of households only have one such unit. They are most commonly located in the living room or kitchen, followed by bedrooms. Amazon's installed user base is more than double that of Google's, although Google is making inroads rather quickly with 26.9% of installed devices made by Google, up from 18.4% in January.
This trend has captured the attention of retailers, with 53% saying they plan to invest in voice search over the next 12 months, according to digital marketing agency QueryClick, as reported by Internet Retailer. Of the CMOs surveyed, 75% said their company will make a change in its search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to ensure high placement in voice search results.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story included research from an earlier report and has been updated to reflect more recent data.