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The Experience Brands Weekly #177

Voice tech is here – are you listening?

Google have sold more than one Google Home device per second since it launched last October, and Amazon sold 33 million Echo smart speakers last year. While at the moment only 10% of UK households have a smart speaker, this is predicted to rise to 48% by 2022, when voice commerce spend is predicted to be £3.5 billion, 3% of all online spend.



So how is the wider adoption of voice technology in our every day lives going to change the way we shop? At the moment playing music, getting updates on the weather or the news and asking general questions are all above making a purchase or even making a shopping list, setting alarms or asking for the time. However, 45% of users have used their smart speaker to make a purchase. These tend to be people who know exactly what they want to buy, so groceries, electronics and homewares are the most common purchases. It is much easier to buy exact items than it currently is to search for various options or be inspired by voice. However, the next upgrades of the smart speakers for both Amazon and Google include screens so you will be able to search for something by voice, then scroll through the results which may encourage more purchasing in different categories and by people who are not 100% sure what they want.

The issue for brands is that there is no guarantee that your brand will appear at the top of a voice search if it does at the top of a desktop search, as the way people search via voice is fundamentally different. Rather than listing a few keywords, when searching via voice they tend to ask conversational questions, in a much more natural speech pattern, so to succeed via voice, brands will have to optimise content for this new way of searching. While both Google and Amazon have toyed with the idea of selling paid search rankings via voice, backlash against this is more of a risk than when searching via screen as people are looking for one short answer when searching via voice, rather than listening to a long list of results.

A lot of people are using voice to make shopping lists throughout the week – a significantly easier online shopping experience for your weekly shop. Instead of having to remember everything at one moment you can gradually build a basket and have it all ready to purchase at the end of the week. Also, you no longer have to be at home to make the most of smart speakers, Amazon has opened its voice framework so there are now more than 50 products that you can use the technology in, such as cars. There is an Amazon Alexa skill for Starbucks allowing you to pre-order a drink from your Ford car and pick it up from one of their drive-through locations. Voice technology is making an easier shopping experience accessible wherever you are, with far less barriers. It is going to change retail, and influence the way we shop, and quicker than you might think. For manufacturers and retailers alike, voice presents opportunities for new shopping moments, but also threats if you do not make sure your products are easily available via voice. 

Other bites:

BMW: Urban Store

BMW is opening its first ‘Urban Store’ in Bluewater shopping centre. The store will feature a ‘Click and Buy’ iPad wall, a robot to give visitors information about the store and collect contact information, a Scalextric track and a coffee bar.




Coty: Magic Mirror

Coty have introduced a ‘Magic Mirror’ in their Bourjois boutique in Paris. The mirror allows you to virtually try-on products, but instead of having to choose from an onscreen selection, you only have to pick up a product for the mirror to register it, maintaining the physical connection between buyer and product.








Harper Collins: Bosh

Think you smelt something while waiting for the bus? Well you might have done as Harper Collins have created a scented bus shelter to launch a vegan cookbook, targeting people at the point of hunger on their commute home.