The Impact of Conversational Commerce and Voice Technology on Retailers…

Person speaking into smartphone
July 1, 2019 3:19 pm

The Impact of Conversational Commerce and Voice Technology on Retailers…



The retail landscape is undergoing a metamorphosis at present and retailers are finding new ways to interact with potential customers. Voice technology is becoming an increasingly dominant input method and several experts have even suggested that voice searches will overtake keyboard searches dramatically by 2020.

Black Friday in 2018 is evidence of this, with Amazon placing heavy discounts on digital assistants including Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Plus, all of which feature Alexa. The rise in voice, is very similar to the dot-com boom in the late 90s and the mad panic to grab a suitable domain name for a business.

Consumers can now chat with company representatives, acquire customer support, solve problems, get personalised recommendations, read reviews, and purchase items and services all through voice technology and other messaging applications. Through conversational commerce, the consumer engages with a human representative, chatbot, or a mix of both, in order to achieve a desired outcome.

For a retailer to fully embrace conversational commerce, they must explore how customers will use voice to engage with their brand. Once understood, they can move forward with finding out the most useful functionality to implement.

This process involves in-depth research with end customers to determine the opportunities that exist for a business. Facilitating internal workshops is one way to align different business functions with voice opportunities and can prove useful for gaining insight.

A good place to start is by securing an invocation. This is the word or phrase that users commonly say to interact with your custom skill or action. Even if the retailer doesn’t intend to use the invocation immediately, it is important to acquire this before a competitor does.

Through day-to-day conversations with customers, a business can identify the common questions that target customers are asking, which could be turned into voice solutions; allowing your customer service teams to focus on higher value and more complex enquiries.

Speaking with customer-facing teams and contact centres is essential for obtaining information about buyer behaviour. They can offer a goldmine of data that will ensure your solution really does meet organisational needs.

For a retailer to position itself for voice search, means providing customers with the exact search result they are looking for. This leads to more opportunity, because the customers that find you will be highly targeted and likely to find your content useful.

Consumers are already using voice for a wide range of potential buying activities, from listening to music, to ordering an uber. Remaining competitive is about thinking of new ways to engage with customers by listening to the interactions they have with your business, about your business and about your market.

Like tablets and smartphones, the adoption of new technology is happening differently across all ages. Older people that struggle with keyboards and mice due to disabilities have found voice to be liberating. There’s a generation of people coming through, for whom their first experience with computers will be voice before they have even encountered a screen or a keyboard.

Not only is conversational commerce simpler for consumers who no longer need to go backwards and forwards between emails and websites to gather information and make purchases, but it’s also a step closer to replicating the attention and experience you might receive from interacting with a sales representative in store.

Voice technology hasn’t changed the world yet. But like mobile, it will find its place and it will change the way we use technology.