Voice technology expected to take off in 2018

amazon-echoVoice technology, or an in-home voice assistant used to interact with and shop from retailers, is expected to become even bigger in Australia in the coming year, according to new research conducted by Salmat.

With Google’s launch in Australia of Google Assistant on Google Home in July, and Amazon’s announcement it will launch Amazon Alexa in 2018, just a few months after opening up their larger inventory online to Australian consumers, voice technology is expected to take off in the coming year.

As 2017 draws to a close, the number of active smart speakers in the US is expected to approach 40 million, according to Salmat. In Australia, almost half (47 per cent) of shoppers are already aware of at least one in-home voice assistant device, and almost half (46 per cent) are willing or excited to use an in-home voice assistant to interact with and shop from retailers.

Despite voice technology being at an early stage in Australia, with just one per cent of respondents currently owning a smart speaker, almost half (47 per cent) could name at least one voice device. In addition, the majority (57 per cent) say they would consider either buying an in-home voice assistant presently or in the future.

“As Australian customers are increasingly expecting convenience from brands, voice assistant technology will grow in popularity,” said Peter Nann, Salmat’s senior voice experience designer.

“With almost half of Australian consumers willing to try or excited to use an in-home voice assistant for shopping, it offers opportunities for local businesses to develop new voice-based customer experiences, services and initiatives, and create innovative marketing campaigns.”

Nann said the high level of awareness of Australians to voice technology so soon after hitting the country’s shores is impressive.

“Already, we’re seeing that Australian consumers are willing to interact and shop with these products, with only a small fraction (4 per cent) not interested,” he said. “This is a strong signal to the market that there is a business opportunity for developing voice-based services, especially in the retail area, but also in other sectors such as finance and services.”

When asked how they would use in-home voice assistants to research and buy products, three out of five of respondents (60 per cent) say they would use it to search for the best price, far ahead of searching for local products and services (26 per cent), or a specific brand (8 per cent).

In addition, they are expecting in-home voice assistants to primarily help them find the best bargains, discounts or sales (48 per cent), ahead of researching products and services (45 per cent), and helping with admin tasks (45 per cent). Finally, another 59 per cent say that alerts to sales, discounts and promotions would be a helpful feature for in-home voice assistants.

Some industries are likely to benefit from voice technology more quickly than others. When asked which products they would consider buying via in-home voice assistants, groceries (37 per cent), clothing and accessories (33 per cent) and health and beauty (32 per cent) make the top three.

“We’re seeing that consumers are willing to use in-home voice assistants for shopping, and if businesses want to tap into this potential, it seems like they just have to first make it possible, and then offer customers deals, deals and even more deals to clinch the transaction,” Nann said.

According to Nann, just about every brand can benefit from a voice assistant experience.

“Even if you can’t service or sell to your customers with voice alone, you can still delight them with a carefully designed experience that reinforces the brand,” he said. “For businesses considering voice-assisted technologies at this early stage, it’s crucial that they lean on experienced local voice-design expertise in order to deliver excellent voice experiences.”

This story was first published on Inside Retail.

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