- Merely 2% of consumers who own the 50 million Alexa-enabled devices have used the voice option to make a purchase so far this year, The Information reported Monday, citing "two people briefed on the company's internal figures." One of the sources told the online publication: "Clearly, voice shopping is not yet in the stage of being a mass market product."
- Of the 2% who bought something using Alexa voice shopping, some 90% declined to use it to make a second purchase, one of The Information's sources said. Alexa can be used to obtain purchasing information — such as asking "What are my deals?" and "Where is my stuff?" — and 20% have used the voice assistant for that purpose, although the orders were probably placed on other devices or platforms.
- The Information's numbers were challenged by Amazon. A spokesperson told BGR (Boy Genius Report): "We do not agree with the numbers represented in the article. Millions of customers use Alexa to shop because it is the most convenient way to capture needs in the moment."
The Information's dispatch is based on two anonymous sources knowledgeable about Amazon's internal numbers, but Amazon disputes the report and other statistics stand in stark contrast.
Amazon has invested heavily in the Echo devices. Like its other proprietary hardware, the Echos are frequently discounted to get them into the homes of potential shoppers, who the company hopes will make e-commerce orders in between listening to music and setting timers. It's not just Amazon betting on voice. Google's Home products are making waves in the marketplace and Apple has barely started to market its Homepods.
A recent study by OC&C Strategy Consultants predicted that voice shopping will grow 1,900% to $40 billion in 2022 from only $2 billion now. OC&C said the Amazon Echo has 10% penetration of U.S. homes, followed by Google Home at 4% and Microsoft's Cortana at 2%. A report from Voicebot.ai and Voysis also found that 16% of smart speaker owners now use them to make monthly purchases. Adjusted for the total population, the report said 21% have tried voice commerce. The Capgemini Digital Transformation Institute Conversational Commerce Survey reported that about 40% of consumers will use a voice assistant as an alternative to a mobile app or website within three years.
Google Assistant has also introduced a Continued Conversation feature to enable more natural dialog between users and Google Home devices, and Amazon is expected to come out with something similar soon. The new voice tech allows consumers to ask follow-up questions after already using the wake-word, something that is thought to stimulate voice commerce use. Amazon now is letting shoppers use the Echo smart speakers and Alexa voice assistant to shop at Whole Foods Market, and Target and Google partnered for a voice-activated coupon on Google Assistant in April.
But there are also studies that support The Information's research that using voice assistants for shopping isn't such a hot concept. A study by Episerver showed that 39% of consumers now own a voice-assisted device, but 60% never browse the internet using them and fewer use them to complete purchases.