While voice shopping may be the future, that future may be further off than the hype would suggest. An internal Amazon report found that only 2% of people who use Alexa-enabled devices have made purchases through the system, according to The Information. Additionally, 90% of people who used Alexa for voice shopping once never tried again.
Some studies present a rosier picture of voice shopping’s popularity than Amazon’s internal numbers. A survey by Voicebot.ai estimated that 21.2% of adults have made a voice purchase at some point, though 56% used a smartphone for the activity. Industry experts such as Steve Dennis of SageBerry Consulting have expressed skepticism about the pace of voice commerce growth.
However, the ultimate potential of voice shopping can’t be ignored: annual sales could grow from an estimated $2 billion today to $40 billion by 2022, according to OC&C Strategy Consultants. RBC Capital Markets analysts estimated that Alexa alone could generate $5 billion to $6 billion a year in revenue from voice shopping by 2020.
Retailers should keep an eye on voice’s other capabilities. An easy and accessible search experience is a vital part of online shopping, and Gartner L2 expects 30% of searches to be made by screenless devices by 2020. Additionally, 20% of Alexa users already check the status of their orders using voice commands, according to Amazon’s internal numbers.
Retailers also should be aware of the growing competition in voice. In addition to Alexa and Google Home, Apple has recently unveiled the HomePod, and Samsung is launching the Galaxy Home, according to TechCrunch. Each device uses its own voice assistant software, which could affect how shoppers interact with brands.