Voice Technology and eCommerce: Is Your Business Ready?

amazon echo

Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos generally let the company’s numbers speak for themselves. So when Bezos does make a bullish statement, everyone from Wall Street, tech and retail takes notice. At the beginning of February, Amazon announced its Q4 earnings. Not only did the company post record quarterly profit and revenue in the holiday shopping season, but Bezos made a statement that got lots of press attention.

He said Alexa’s results far outpaced its internal projections and that Amazon would double down on its investment in the voice arena. Given Amazon’s influence on ecommerce and the internet in general, this is a very big deal. It also explains why Google is investing so much in voice technology, along with projects from other big companies like Apple’s recent release of the HomePod.

Although we’re still in the early stages of home voice technology, Amazon’s traction and all of the investments being made indicate voice will develop into a key way people interact with the online world. But how will voice impact online shopping? With payment processing already being one of the biggest pain points in ecommerce, we’re taking a look at how voice could impact the way consumers pay online.

Current Examples of Popular Alexa Skills

One of the reasons Amazon has taken a lead with its voice technology is because they’ve allowed developers to build on their Alexa platform. Instead of apps, developers build skills, the voice equivalent. Home voice technology is still so new, companies are seeing the most traction using skills to build their brand.

Two great examples include Patron and Tide. Ask Patron is a virtual bartender that allows people to talk to Alexa just like they would a bartender for cocktail suggestions and tips. The skill also provides gift recommendations and tequila facts related to Patron.

Tide’s Stain Remover skill makes it easy for people to deal with tough stains like coffee, ink and wine. They can simply ask Alexa about a specific stain and then get step-by-step voice instructions on how to get it out. With both examples, it’s easy to see how people will gradually get more comfortable purchasing these products during their voice interactions.

Where Voice Technology Will (and Won’t) Shine with Payments

Voice commerce is likely to see the biggest initial traction with grocery and replenishables. In fact, competition is going to be very fierce in becoming the default brand when people ask for a generic item.

While some predictions show voice will account for 50 percent of all online searches by 2020, this doesn’t mean every category is going to see a lot of payment disruption. For more complicated or custom items like designer dresses, it’s hard to imagine the majority of consumers will ever prefer a voice experience over a visual one.

Be sure to check back to our payments blog regularly to keep up with the latest in voice technology and other innovations across the payments industry throughout 2018.



Posted on Wednesday, February 28th, 2018