Retail giants have been using modern automation tools over the last few decades. Whether consumers want it or not, automation is gradually becoming an important aspect of their shopping experience. In fact, automation is deeply embedded in the retail industry, especially in the back-end processes of supply chain and inventory management. The most well-known examples are that of Walmart and Carrefour. Walmart is now using retail automation to address the ‘last mile’ distribution problems while Carrefour’s voice shopping arrangement is a part of the company’s broader e-commerce plan for 2021.
Automated Retail or Retail Automation thus describes the process of using relevant technology to automate or semi-automate the retail experience. Self-service kiosks, smartphone applications to pay in-store, voice apps to browse across various categories are just a few examples.
Voice technology and retail automation
As the movement toward digital shopping continues to gain momentum, the voice interface is becoming increasingly relevant. According to a study by NPR and Edison Research, more than 60% of US adults are active voice users where 26% regularly engage their speakers to add items to their shopping list. And, since the technology offers a hands-free experience for shoppers, it is becoming extremely important for brands to make voice a part of their digital strategy.
This article examines what voice technology means for the retail sector:
Voice assistants and voice search are on their way to revolutionizing online shopping and commerce, much as the smartphone apps did. The top 3 uses of voice tech that shoppers use are for checking their delivery status, making shopping lists, and searching for products and services. This means that brands and retailers who choose to incorporate voice technology in their strategies can provide a more personalized experience to their customers.
Sephora, a well-known cosmetics brand, recently collaborated with Google to enable customers to book beauty appointments using their voice. Starbucks has been experimenting with innovative approaches to make it easier for its consumers to buy drinks. Now they have to simply use Amazon’s Alexa, to place an order even before they leave the house.
According to December 2020, a voicebot.ai study found that 33% percent of US respondents regularly used a smartphone-based voice assistant to research products before purchase.
How do voice assistants change our way of purchasing?
- Immersive experience
Voice tech can emulate the experience of visiting a store and being guided by a helpful and knowledgeable sales assistant. From the convenience of shopping in homes, consumers can describe what they’re looking for, enquire about pricing and product specifications, ask follow-up questions, and can even get tailored recommendations based on their shopping history and past purchase behavior.
- Conversational commerce
Voice assistants can make the shopping experience even more frictionless and interactive. They provide speedy responses to the customer’s queries which significantly reduces the time taken for their checkout. The ease and convenience of searching, selecting, and transacting of voice has been a major driver of its adoption by customers. According to Capgemini, it has found that 41% of consumers would prefer a voice assistant over a website or app while shopping online.
- For repeat orders
The majority of customers put repeat orders for their daily consumables such as toiletries, groceries, home necessities, and so on. However, as a user browses through a website or app to buy a product, there is a strong risk that they might abandon or postpone their purchase. Voice applications come in handy during this situation, where they can get an abandoned cart message informing them to finish their order. They can offer suggestions based on a customer’s purchase history: “Would you like to reorder a bottle of Dove shampoo?” “Is it time to get new batteries for your flashlight?” By learning how we search, what we buy and where we shop, personal assistants and mobile-based apps will be able to predict our needs and make our lives easier.
Customers want a personalized shopping experience, which is quick and accurate. They also want a personalized interactive experience. Voice could fulfill this need as it blends both. Voice technology presents a new channel to interact with customers, where it can help the companies to maintain a record of shopper’s preferences and purchasing history to create a personalized customer experience, tailored to each individual’s preferences and shopping tendencies. Implementing tailored recommendations through voice assistants is a strategic way to encourage shoppers to use voice, especially for more emotional purchases.
Let’s look at a use-case of Kohl’s for example
American retail chain Kohl’s is an early adopter of voice technologies by integrating voice search functions into its mobile application, enabling users to skip browsing hundreds of inventory items and find products more easily, potentially resulting in greater impulse buys.
Voice technology with AI is helping Kohl’s to work smarter, faster, and more efficiently, while innovating how they interact with their customers. The Kohl’s voice app offers voice search capabilities for its users, where they’re presented with a list of exact or similar products they can purchase within a matter of seconds, showcasing the massive convenience of shopping just via their voice commands. Through their investments in platforms including voice tech and chatbots, they’re creating a simple, engaging customer and associate experience.
The retail industry has been continuously evolving to deal with changing market conditions. The introduction of voice apps is just one of the indicators that this technology is becoming more relevant. Voice applications will not replace traditional platforms, but they will supplement websites and smartphone apps.
Our voice solutions can be resourceful to your customers as it can assist them to navigate with ease and access the product features, updates, or recommendations in the quickest possible time.
VOGO Voice designs and builds engaging voice skills for industries including education, civic, transportation, business, and nonprofits using our robust voice user interface platform that allows data integration and in-depth customization. VOGO Voice build you the best of class voice app that is compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Get in touch with our professional team today to hand your citizens, customers, and workforce a high-definition voice-activated solution to keep pace with their demand.