What is voice commerce?

Learn about voice commerce and how voice assistant technology can benefit your business.
· 10 January 2024 · 8 minute read

Voice commerce has the potential to transform the marketing and eCommerce landscape. Discover how voice assisted technology works. What to be mindful of. And how harnessing this technology can help you offer more convenience, speed and seamlessness to your customers during the checkout experience.

 

What is voice commerce?

Voice commerce is an innovative technology that can help enable customers to find and buy products and services online using their voice.

It could begin with a simple voice command, like “Hey Alexa, I need a new phone charger.” Or a smart speaker or other artificial intelligence (AI) driven assistants. With voice commerce a buyer can purchase a product or service they need within a matter of minutes.

Voice activated shopping can help improve customer convenience and efficiency by removing the need to type.

 

The evolution of voice commerce

Voice recognition software dates back to 1952. The "Audrey" system, crafted by Bell Laboratories, had the capability to identify spoken digits from a single voice.

As you can imagine, with the evolution of technology, voice assistance has come a long way. Since the launch of the Amazon Echo in 2014, customers have been able to:

  • Search for products and services
  • Add items to their cart
  • Make purchases using only their voice.

This hands-free transformation can help make the online shopping experience smoother, more efficient, and potentially much faster for many customers.

 

How voice commerce works

Let’s explore an example that demonstrates one of the ways voice commerce can work. Take a family-owned local cinema wanting to leverage voice commerce. This could allow their customers to search for information on movie sessions. And even book tickets using voice commands.

Now, imagine a customer looking to purchase movie tickets using their Alexa enabled device. The transaction could go a little something like this:

Customer: Alexa, what are the session times for Oppenheimer at my local cinema tomorrow?

Alexa: Oppenheimer is playing at 3:30pm, 6:15pm and 8:00pm tomorrow. What type of seats would you like?

Customer: Book me two tickets at the 6:15pm session.

Alexa: Sure. Where in the cinema would you like to sit?

Customer: Middle.

Alexa: That will be $42,00. Would you like to book them?

Customer: Yes, I would.

Alexa: Thanks for your booking. Your tickets have been emailed to you.

 

Benefits of voice commerce

Below we breakdown some of the many benefits of voice commerce.

Help reduce the time between a customer deciding to buy and actually buying

When it’s easier and quicker for a customer to buy something using their voice there is less time for them to get distracted or interrupted when completing their purchase.

This may help increase conversions from a customer adding something to their cart, to completing the checkout experience.

Learn more about conversion rate optimisation (CRO).

Help improve customer experience

After a customer uses their voice and smart speaker to make a few purchases their purchasing history may be stored. This means your customers can enjoy a more personalised shopping experience with tailored recommendations.

This can also help save your customers time, from viewing products they may not be interested in. By improving customer experience you can help boost customer loyalty and customer retention.

Learn more about ways customer retention benefits your business.

Help generate more sales

A voice commerce assistant can have the capability to suggest alternatives to a sold-out or unavailable product. This can help reduce the possibility of a lost sale.

Help gain insights

Voice assistants can use customer data to improve how the voice technology interacts with customers. You can also gain important insights from this information. For example, you can uncover customer patterns and trends such as when customers are more likely to purchase. From here, you can create targeted marketing campaigns.

Help increase convenience

Giving customers the ability to browse and purchase hands-free can help save them time and effort.

Transactions and brand interactions can take place while your customer is in the car, making dinner or getting dressed.

 

How to optimise your business website for voice search

Understand natural language

It’s important to create website content that mimics natural conversation. This is because voice searches tend to be more informal and use conversational language.

You can optimise your content to include keywords and phrases that people might use when speaking normally to a friend.

Focus on local search engine optimisation (SEO)

Many voice searches suggest local businesses. Therefore, it’s important to invest in local search engine optimisation (SEO). Check that your business website is optimised for local search by including location-based keywords. And make sure your site’s Google My Business listing has accurate and up-to-date business information.

Mobile optimisation

It’s important to also optimise your business website for mobile devices. This is because a lot of voice searches are carried out on smartphones.

Page speed optimisation

Optimising your business website’s speed and page loading times, may help you benefit from better voice search results.

Schema markup

Schema is a type of structured data code that you can add to your business website.

Implementing schema markup can help make it easier for search engines to identify what type of business you are and what you do. It can provide search engines with more information about your products and services.

Schema markup can help search engines understand your content better and improve your chances of being featured in voice search results.

Create a frequently asked questions (FAQ) section

Consider creating a comprehensive frequently asked question (FAQ) section. FAQs may be more likely to be served as the answer to specific voice queries from potential customers.

Regularly update content

Keep your content up-to-date and relevant. Search engines prefer high-quality and recent content. Updating your product listings, blog posts, and other content can positively impact your search visibility.

By implementing these strategies, you can enhance the likelihood of customers finding you through voice search results. This can help drive more organic traffic and potential customers to your site.

Learn more about the benefits of SEO for small business and ways to help boost website performance.

 

Considerations when adopting voice commerce

Before you jump in, it’s important to understand how adoption of voice commerce could affect different areas of your business. And where potential hurdles may pop up. While voice commerce can open up opportunities, there’s also a few important things to consider

Technology adoption

Voice commerce relies on your customers buying and using a voice commerce enabled device or AI assistant. Your target audience may not be there yet. So it could be a good idea conducting some market research before you invest time and energy into optimising your business website for voice commerce activation.

Customer data considerations

When embracing new technology it’s important to address any customer data considerations. Explain to customers how you will use their data and be transparent with your processes and how it will work. This can help put your customers minds at ease.

Language limitations

While voice command technology has come a long way, some devices can still struggle to understand differences in voices, accents and languages.

 

Advice for businesses embracing voice commerce

If you want to boost your online presence, voice commerce is worth considering. Below we breakdown three actionable tips for integrating voice commerce technologies.

1. Use conversational keywords

Keywords are essential elements in SEO, as they help people find you online. When optimising your business website for voice search, choosing the right keywords is crucial to help increase visibility.

When you add keywords to product descriptions, think about the way your customers speak. Text searches are often short, for example, “Plumber near me”.  But voice searches can run up 10 words long. For example, “Hey Google, show me the 5 most recommended plumbers in my area”.

2. Focus on repeat orders

Once your system captures purchase history, voice commerce can enable faster repeat orders for customers. Consider offering discounts for repeat voice commerce orders to incentivise customer retention even more.

3. Embrace voice-activated devices

Integrating your eCommerce platform with voice activated devices, can help you create a more seamless shopping experience for your customers.

 

Embracing the future of retail with voice commerce

Now that you’re familiar with the possibilities of voice commerce, it’s easy to see the potential this technology has to offer. As the marketing and eCommerce landscape continues to grow and evolve, it may be worth considering how you can harness voice commerce, to help give you a competitive edge.

Frequently asked questions

Using voice commerce typically involves the following six steps:

  1. Choose a voice assistant platform
  2. Research which voice search apps are available for your specific eCommerce platform
  3. Choose and integrate your chosen app
  4. Design custom voice commands and intents
  5. Optimise your product descriptions for voice commands
  6. Test and refine your commands to improve user experience

Once you’re all set up, your customers will also need to invest in a smart speaker or AI driven voice assistant to access your online store using voice commerce.

Voice shopping, commonly referred to as voice commerce, enables your customers to browse online stores, ask questions, check prices of products, and if enabled, purchase products, using their voice.

It’s different from other types of online shopping, including browsing using a computer, tablet or mobile. It allows customers to purchase from the comfort of their couch without having to move, type, or read.

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