Voice Payments: Future of Money or Money Heist?

“Alexa, Send Money via Paypal Cash Plus balance.”

There is just something extremely gratifying in ordering someone (or in this case something) to do your chores. Especially, when that something saves you from putting your password every single time, logging in to your bank’s website, and keeps you signed in all the time.

At the beginning of the decade, commanding a bot to make payments for you would have sounded like a fairytale. Even when voice payments started to enter our day to day lives, it was thought of more as a novelty than utility. 

However, the increased adoption of voice technology has made voice based payments a mainstream phenomenon. By 2017, Eighteen million US consumers had already tried paying by voice. It was estimated that another 5 million would try the same by the end of 2018, and the numbers will quadruply by the time 2022 comes. 

How do voice payments work?

The process of setting up a voice payment account is very similar to that of paying through any online wallet.  In both cases, the customer  must first link their credit/debit card or their bank account details to their devices. However, in a typical wallet scenario, the customer most likely has to open the app, manually type in the details of the amount and the receiver and then press the ok button to facilitate the payment. 

However, in case of voice payments, the customer can simply prompt his device to make the payment with a voice command, and the following steps will proceed:

  1. Once the choice of payment app is opened, the end-user is greeted with a screen prompting a confirmation. The customers can authorize the payment by using a password or by a simple fingerprint scan, as he wishes. 
  2. The receiver, on the other end will be given a confirmation message via email, text or in-app notification of the amount he or she received. 
  3. The process works equally smoothly in reverse. Just prompt your device to ask for a money transfer from one of your peers and the user at the other end will be sent a message to confirm the same.

In addition to making payments, customers can also check their account balances and monitor their payment schedule. 

Voice Payments: Use Case

The rise in the popularity of voice payments is a tribute to the ‘24*7 connected’ lifestyle. In the modern world’s fast-paced environment, voice payments are offering the consumers services that save their time and are easy to use. On the other hand, brands win because they get a never before access to the personal data and behavior trends of their customers. 

This win-win situation has made many brands and financial institutions jump on the voice payment bandwagon. Mobile payment platforms such as Zelle, Venmo, and PayPal are already allowing their customers to use voice activated commands to carry out banking and other financial functions. Traditional banks like Wells Fargo on the other hand, are adding conversational voice interfaces to their mobile banking apps to allow their customers access to all banking services. 

Some of the most well know use-cases of voice payments are the following: 

  • Peer-to-peer transfers through online wallets and platforms like Venmo, Square Cash, or PayPal
  • Ordering products from e-commerce sites or retailers and paying off via voice-enabled credit card applications.
  • Using the ‘reorder’ feature to shop for order products that you buy regularly. 
  • Perform a variety of financial transactions including paying off card debt and fund transfers. 

Companies like JP Morgan, and Mastercard are using conversational AI platforms like KAI. Institutions like Royal Bank of Canada, Barclays, and Santander have already introduced voice-based payments via Siri, and Cognitive Banking Brain from Personetics is serving over 50 million customers across the world. 

With so many use cases there is no wonder that a variety of companies have initiated processes to empower their customers with voice-based payments. However one question still haunts this modern technology – “If voice payments are so convenient, why haven’t they still become mainstream?”

The Challenges for Voice Payments

In many ways, the challenges presented to voice payments are the same as for any new technology — Unfamiliarity, and a lack of trust. Voice payments like any novel tech needs to justify the gap it is filling, and with money involved, it needs to become extra credible to have a wider adoption. 

Here are the top challenges that voice payments are facing today:

  1. Security issues:  According to a recent study, 39% of the responders find voice-controlled payments unfamiliar and too risky. Customers still find it difficult to trust the voice of systems they can’t see or feel physically.
  2. Compromising on privacy : On one hand, the customers are scared of an alien technology, on the other, they also fear that the same technology will become too personal. 43% of respondents fear that voice respondents can listen to their private conversations.
  3. Understanding different accents: Voice assistants still have issues understanding different accents, especially non-american. In a study, the overall accuracy of voice-based systems went down by 2.6 percent for people with Chinese origins, the accuracy dropped by 4.2 percent when it came to Spanish accents. This gap became even bigger, when it came to media playback with Spanish accent receiving a 79.9 percent accuracy rate when compared to a 91.8 percent for an eastern US accent. 
  1. Point of service integration issues: To ensure a wider adoption, the hardware and software component at the POS of merchants needs to be compatible with voice activated technology. The cost of integrating with Wi-Fi and bluetooth enabled systems becomes a major stumbling block at this state, with merchants having to cover the majority of the expenses.
  2. Participation from financial institutions: As mentioned earlier, a lot of prominent names of the financial sector have started adoption voice payments. However, the issue of licensing means a hindrance in the road to mainstream adoption. Since there has been no major overall collaboration with banks at a worldscale, limited roll-outs mean that the pace of voice payments is slow for now. 
  3. Return on investment: With digital wallets and net banking, many feel that online transactions are already as easy as they can be. The added proposition of voice payments is often considered to be a shiny novelty without any additional utility. Banks often feel that it is not enough of an added value proposition for their customers to sign up for. 

So, does this mean that voice payments will never truly become mainstream. That with all their comforts and advantages, they will continue to be an innovative tech for companies to show-off? The answer thankfully, is ‘No.’

The future of voice payments 

Any shift in the market is usually driven by changing customer demands. For voice payments luckily, these current shifts seem to be in their favor. The increase in familiarity with technology as well as an increased desire for comfort means that millennials are easily attracted towards convenience-based technology like voice payments. In a digital world, where efficiency is increased and optimized everyday, voice payments can be a boon for brands and customers alike.

The adoption of Artificial Intelligence in our everyday lives is shifting the trend towards voice applications. IoT devices such as smart refrigerators, speaker, car systems and voice assistants are making everyday connections in daily users’ life. With such rampant usage, many industry stalwarts predict that over the next 5 years almost every technology in any industry will have voice powered systems integrated in one way or the other. 

Currently, only a small portion of the people owning voice assistants use it for their payment services. 6% of consumers use voice activated to look up banking info, and only 11% to conduct bank transactions. 12% of consumers use voice activated to pay bills and 10% to send money to another person.

Another issue is that people still use voice payments as a ‘trial service’, i.e. for smaller payments. The graph given below summarizes it well:

To make voice payments mainstream, the technology needs to be given more credibility. Here are some of the aspects of voice payments that need to improve in order to give it a mass appeal:

  1. Improved security: Let’s first address the massive elephant in the room. The biggest threat to voice payments is the conceived notion of insecurity. Keeping information undisclosed while verifying payment procedures can be a big challenge for financial institutes. However, various experiments are being run on combining various biometric markers like  fingerprints, irises, and voice recognition to give a holistic and robust security boost to the system.
  2. More accuracy in accent recognition: Voice assistants are getting better at ignoring background noise and as applicable to any system that uses AI, they are also getting better at recognizing various accents with time. Recent tests by the United Services Automobile Association (USAA) have shown significant improvement in voice recognition capabilities. Machines are already getting better at understanding the context  behind the phrases. They can now differentiate between accents and different voice “techniques.” Soon it would be impossible to distinguish between an AI conversation and conversing with a real human. 
  3. Enabling other systems: The best of technologies work hand in hand with the existing systems, and don’t tend to replace them immediately. For example,  Amazon’s newest voice  device, the Echo Show, is enabled with a screen to show consumers visual content, and provide an added security layer.
  4. Global deals: In a theoretical way, one complete integration deal with a Mastercard or VISA could consolidate voice enabled solutions for most banks around the world. Similar global deals with online payment platforms or retail franchises can put voice payment adoption in a fast track mode. 

The future of voice payments in one of integration. Expect voice enabled devices to complement and not replace the existing technologies. A great example of this is the new Google ‘Hands free’. Under this voice activated platform, the customer simply needs to walk up to the cash register with his android phones and say ““I’ll pay with Google.” This will activate a system that combines Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, phone sensors and in-store cameras to transfer payment details to the merchant. The merchant is then given the prompt to match the user in front of him with the pre-loaded image of the account holder. Assuming that the merchant is satisfied, the payment can then be authorized. 

A vital cog in the wheel for voice payments to become mainstream would be their integration with smart speakers. With more than 1 of every 4 American homes equipped with smart speakers, voice payments clearly have a new pathway to break into the customer’s life. Let’s have a look at this latest integration. 

Voice payments with IoT

Alexa users are already accustomed to authorizing payments via their faithful smart speakers when they purchase items from Amazon. The fact that customers are already logged in 24*7 with their smart speakers, makes the medium quite convenient for voice payments. For customers who are already comfortable with their voice enabled speakers, venturing into voice payments is just the next logical steps. 

The success of payments via voice will depend largely on the capabilities of the hardware that are powering it. Companies have already introduced voice control technology in devices ranging from alarm clocks to washing machines. As these devices become capable of handling financial transactions, it wouldn’t be of surprise if customers can verbally order their refrigerator to stock up on grocery essentials or direct their washing machine to buy their favorite detergent. 

Conclusion

We have already seen a revolution in the financial field recently, with mobile payments disrupting the way consumers transact. Voice commands are just the natural progression of a similar technology. As voice continues to integrate with the existing ecosystem of technology expect the minor chunks to be ironed out. The promise of a comfortable, hands free and frictionless payment system is just too hard to ignore. Voice payments might just be the revolution that drives up the revenue and customer experience together. 

According to a recent study from the global consulting firm OC&C Strategy Consultants the value of voice-based payments is set to skyrocket, from $2 billion in annual payment volume in 2018 to $40 billion in volume by 2022. 

This calls for a massive opportunity for retailers to build voice enabled applications and connect them with smart speakers and other IoT equipment. According to Voicebot.ai, Amazon had over 80,000 Alexa skills worldwide as of January 2019.There is a massive opportunity for retailers to build skills or connected applications for smart home speakers that will enable voice-based shopping. 

Blu.ai is helping brands create voice based apps that can be made live in a jiffy. We handle the backend and infrastructure on commercial cloud servers and provide customizable templates to add new voice interactions when needed. Our centralized service manages voice applications from various platforms . To know more about our solutions visit https://blu.ai/

How Brands Are Using Voice Technology In 2020

Voice technology for brands or voice search is not a new phenomenon for businesses any more. According to Google, 20% of all searches are through voice, and 31% of smartphone users worldwide use voice tech at least once a week. So why is there a new buzz around this term recently? 

The answer lies in the effects of the worst epidemic of this generation – ‘Coronavirus’. The present situation has put restrictions and fear among consumers’ minds for the action of ‘touching.’ The main appeal of voice control tech is soon becoming the limiting need for touch. In a recent survey published by Edison Research and NPR, “More than 50 percent of smart device owners are using voice commands at least once a day now—an uptick that occurred between the start of 2020 and the beginning of April.” That’s a tremendous jump for technology as new as voice. 

Even though governments will eventually open up the economy, and life will settle down in the ‘new normal’, customers will likely remain cautious for a long time to come. The pandemic will have lasting impacts on consumer behavior.

With this in mind, there is no surprise that many brands are jumping on the voice technology bandwagon. Google has recently introduced a new kid-friendly voice assistant called ‘Diya.’ Diya corrects the students’ errors when they read, offers encouragement, and provides congratulations when the lesson is complete. The kids can even ask Diya for helping them out with pronouncing words they don’t know how to speak. Similarly, Dunkin’s new voice search strategy saw a 10x rise in people using voice to search for open locations with access points like a drive-through, delivery, or curbside pick-up during the coronavirus period. 

With such novelty and extensive usage, one can only imagine what the future holds for voice technology. However, looking at some of the early adopters can help us understand the potential of this newest way of surfing the net:

  1. PayPal: Online payments

Use Case: 

PayPal has introduced voice assistant support that allows customers to send and request money using voice commands. The assistant also lets users check their account balance on the go. The system even provides detailed receipts on the go. Sending and receiving funds requires a valid account with PayPal.

Even though there were a few security concerns from the customers initially, considering that the voice assistant presently doesn’t distinguish between various voices, a PIN or Touch ID security would mean more widespread use of the feature. 

Implementation:

Here are the steps to implement the PayPal voice assistant: 

  • To enable the PayPal skill – Open your voice assistant (Amazon Alexa/Google Assistant or iPhone Siri) app. Select ‘skills’ and search for ‘PayPal’. Select ‘enable’.
  • Link your PayPal account – Enter your PayPal username and password. Create a PIN for additional security and then select your preferred payment method.
  • The system is now activated! – Once the skill is open, you can chat with Amazon Alexa using commands like, “check my PayPal Cash or PayPal Cash Plus balance.”, “send money”, and “request money”.

Benefits:

  • More number of transactions without customers having to touch their wallet.
  • Paying for items is inherently a tedious process, automating the unproductive steps with voice improves the customer experience significantly.
  • Early adoption means more time to establish credibility and remove security concerns.

2. Dominos: Omnichannel presence

The American multinational pizza restaurant chain was one of the earliest adopters of voice technology. With more than 50 percent of its sales coming from online orders, Dominos decided to invest in voice-based systems in 2014. With an assistant that is called to be the ‘Siri’ of the food industry, Dominos believes that typing as a form of input will become archaic soon with voice taking over as the primary form of input method. 

Use case: 

Dominos’ voice assistant ‘Dom’ was created to provide a personalized online experience to customers. Dom brings a fun level of personalization to Dominos’ ordering experience with an integrated mobile Web platform that allows customers to place an order with a straightforward voice command. 

This not only helps the consumer in skipping queues in the stores, but also simplifies an otherwise complicated process of browsing through varieties of pizza and sides and other customizable options on the company website. 

Dom can carry out a variety of functions – taking an order for delivery or takeaway, handling pre-saved orders, suggesting side additions to meals in order to make them complete, and finding the best available coupons to provide customers with the hottest deals. 

Implementation:

  • Customers need to download the Dominos app or visit the Dominos website.
  • They will need to create an ‘easy profile’ on the app.
  • Once the customer selects to enable Dom. He or she can start interacting or processing their orders with the bot.

Benefits: 

  • Since its inception, Dom has recorded over half a million orders.
  • Dom augments the Domino’s brand by allowing the app to integrate with their customers’ existing and desired lifestyle. 
  • According to Dominos, ‘Dom’ is used as much as any other mobile channel. 

3. Mr. Robot: Branded Alexa Skills

Mr. Robot is an American drama thriller television series. Apart from its noteworthy psycho-thriller plot, Mr. Robot also got attention because of its exclusive “Mr. Robot: Daily Five/Nine” skill. 

Use Case

In what was one of the first cases of a brand launching an exclusive Alexa skill, the Daily Five/Nine skill for Alexa was developed very much as an extension of the story world of the show. In this interactive game. Players were taken on an unexpected adventure through the “Daily Five/Nine Skill” and experience the mind-bending narrative of Mr. Robot. They were allowed to play the narrative of the story while making decisions as they meet other characters in the gameplay. Fans of the show can participate in a mind-bending narrative journey inspired by the appearance of Amazon echo in the storylines of season 2 and season 3 of Mr. Robot. 

Implementation

  • To begin the interactive story game, simply ask Alexa to enable the “Daily Five/Nine Skill” and follow the instructions.
  • The game can be accessed on all Alexa-enabled devices with a complementary visual experience on the Amazon Echo Show.

Benefits

  • Mr. Robot’s voice-enabled activation took its online community engagement to a whole new level. With its geeky nature of storytelling, the activity hit the target audience right on the mark.
  • The branded skill got nominated for various awards, including the popular ‘Shorty awards’ where it was the finalist in the ‘gamification’ category. 

4. Burger King: Voice Marketing

The multinational chain of hamburger fast food restaurants is known for perhaps the most innovative use of voice technology to date. For a 67 year old brand competing with other fast-food brands like McDonalds and KFC, Burger King was looking for an innovative way to catch their customers’ attention and stand apart in the clutter. 

Use Case

Can a shady, notorious campaign that takes advantage of gaps in a system to become one of the most famous marketing activities of the year? Well, Burger King did just that. In 2017 Burger King showed how the future of advertisement could look like. It took advantage of smart voice-enabled devices at the customer’s house and integrated a television campaign to provide one of the smartest omni channel campaigns of all time. 

Implementation

  • Burger King displayed a television commercial that asked Google’s voice recognition Home assistant: “OK Google, What is the Whopper burger?”
  • The phrase triggered Google home assistants everywhere in the country. It caused the device to switch on and conduct a Google search looking for an answer.
  • For most searches, Google picks the answer from Wikipedia, and it did the same for the Whopper query. 
  • Burger king however, had changed the Wikipedia entry a week before the campaign. 
  • The page now said, “The Whopper is a burger, consisting of a flame-grilled patty made with 100 percent beef with no preservatives or fillers, topped with sliced tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles, ketchup, and mayonnaise, served on a sesame seed bun.”
  • Thus whenever the advertisement on the TV was played the customers got to hear the same information from their phones and smart devices.

Even though Google acted swiftly and disabled its devices from responding to the advertisement soon after, the campaign was still one of the most talked-about digital events of the year. 

Benefits:

  • Burger King just won the top award in ‘Grand Prix’  for its “OK Google Ad” in the Direct category.
  • The advertisement resulted in 9.3 billion ad impressions globally and $135 million in free media coverage for the Whopper.

5. Rothy’s: Product Ordering

Rothy’s is a leading direct to consumer brand for women’s shoes with a loyal customer base and $150MM+ in revenue. Rothys create fashionable shoes sustainably. To date, they have transformed over 30 million plastic water bottles into stylish footwear.

Use Case

Rothy’s was looking to upgrade their customer experience with voice-enabled UX. However, the company needed help with the technological aspect of setting such a system. That’s when they found Blutag, a tech-based SAAS platform that enables retail companies to deliver voice apps to their customers without coding. 

Blutag enabled Rothy’s with a voice assistant connected to their existing Shopify store and AmazonPay Seller ID. This allowed customers to browse through the catalog on the screen. Using voice commands, the system accurately sorts through hundreds of options and helps in narrowing down the shoe of the customer’s choice. It also enables customers to easily add things to the cart and check out to the payment gateway, all through the power of their voices. 

Implementation

  • To open the skill the customer needs to simply say “Alexa, open Rothy’s”
  • This needs to be followed by the shopping order. “Buy flats, or Buy Bags”
  • The skill uses Amazon Pay to process the payments
  • For an added security level, the customer can enable a four-digit voice code under  Settings in the Alexa app.

Rothy’s was able to set up their voice assistant app and integrate it with their existing system in less than three weeks. With the assistance of Blutag, they had to spend less than five hours of building and customizing the app. 

Results

  • High engagement with an average of 20 voice utterances/app user/session.
  • 67% of Alexa skill users were successfully able to find the product of their choice.
  • 3% of customers completed the purchase using their smart speaker.
  • 78% of surveyed app users had above-average satisfaction with the Alexa Skill (0% had below average).

As voice assistants perform more and more ‘skills,’ the users will continue to get more and more engaged as they perform a variety of actions using their voice. A report from Voicebot.ai reveals that in 2019, smart speaker owners used voice requests for an average of 9.4 different tasks a week. In 2020, that number has inched up to 10.8 different functions.

In Conclusion

With more users opting for voice-enabled shopping, brands will look to optimize voice in ads and their digital collaterals. They would like to evaluate common voice search queries and analyze the conversational text that occurs between the customer and the bot. Brands will look to continuously implement voice and complement their existing systems to delight consumers with the customer experience. Expect more innovative use of voice by brands in the future as this latest digital communication channel heats up. 

About Blutag

Blutag enables retail companies to deliver voice apps to their customers without coding in just a few simple steps. Blutag handles the backend and infrastructure on commercial cloud servers and provides customizable templates to add new voice interactions when needed. To know more about our products, visit: https://blu.ai/

References:

https://www.usanetwork.com/mr-robot/blog/alexa-holds-the-key-to-a-new-mr-robot-interactive-experience
https://www.retaildive.com/ex/mobilecommercedaily/dominos-mobile-virtual-ordering-assistant-dom-tops-half-million-orders
https://www.mobilemarketer.com/news/dominos-lets-ai-assistant-dom-handle-incoming-phone-orders/522111/

https://99firms.com/blog/voice-search-statistics/#gref
https://www.zdnet.com/article/paypal-enables-voice-activated-payments-via-siri/
https://www.paypal.com/skills/voice
https://www.martechwiz.com/blog/6-brands-successfully-strategizing-for-voice-marketing/

2019: The Year Voice Redefined Omnichannel Retail

2019 was a pivotal year for voice commerce. 

At Blutag, we had front-row seats to voice shopping’s explosion into the mainstream. We saw a 25x increase in new customers build and deploy voice shopping assistants over the last year. Business Insider featured us as a leading “voice-first” startup, and FoxBusiness invited us on the show to discuss how voice shopping is transforming retail forever.

We’re just getting started and so is voice commerce.

The sales channel grew faster than expected this year. By all measures, 2020 will be even bigger. Further down the road, OC&C Strategy Consultants estimates that voice will increase to $40 billion in retail revenue by 2022.

In this post, we share our most important takeaways from the last twelve months and look ahead to what’s coming in online retail. If you aren’t bought into voice shopping already, now is the time. 

Omnichannel Retail

Takeaway #1: Smart speaker growth beating expectations

Smart speakers are no longer novelty devices. 

There are approximately 200 million smart speakers installed today around the world. Adoption grew by over 80% between 2018 and 2019. By 2024, Global Market Insights predicts the global smart speaker market will be worth more than $30 billion.

In the US, more than half of all households will own at least one smart speaker within the next two years. Companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Apple continue to invest millions of dollars into the technology, highlighting how excited they are about the space. 

We saw a slew of new announcements and releases for voice-enabled devices in 2019. Amazon released wireless Echo Buds and Echo Frames that can both respond to voice commands. GM is planning to offer a built-in Alexa Auto capability starting early 2020. With technologies like these, consumers could act on impulse and browse as certain brands or products come to mind. 

Smart speakers provide the network through which voice shopping thrives. As natural language processing and voice computing technology improves, these devices will become more integral to our daily lives and voice commerce.  

Takeaway #2: Retailers starting to see the value of voice commerce

Retailers are increasingly promoting voice as a compelling way to shop. 

For example, Amazon extended voice-specific discounts to Prime members for certain devices back in July. Shoppers could purchase 3rd generation Echo Dots for $22 (56% off) or 32Gb Fire Tablets for $50 (29% off). On Black Friday, the eCommerce giant offered smart plugs for $5 (80% off), but only if you asked Alexa.

Voice shopping reduces friction for many purchasing decisions, enabling consumers to place orders hands-free. Before 2019, voice shopping was primarily used for replenishable items, like groceries and household needs. We saw usage and transactions increase for higher-margin products, like apparel and other gift items, this year. We saw retailers deploy voice-specific deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday on our platform.

Retailers who supported voice in 2019 were ahead of the curve. Next year, those who don’t have a voice app will be behind the curve. Voice shopping is growing that quickly.

In 2020, an “omnichannel” eCommerce strategy will include a voice shopping channel. If you don’t support voice commerce next year, you won’t be a true omnichannel retailer.

Takeaway #3: Voice shopping awareness is growing

Voice-based searches jumped significantly in 2019. 55% of teens use voice search daily, which means the next generation of shoppers will be even more inclined to shop with verbal cues. 

eMarketer predicted in July that 31 million Americans would use their smart speakers to browse and add items to virtual shopping carts before the end of 2019. At the time, the estimate was already an 8% increase over the same prediction made seven months prior. With respect to actual transactions, the firm forecasted that 21 million Americans would complete voice shopping orders this year. 

After a busy holiday shopping season, many more consumers are aware of voice commerce and its advantages. Next year, consumers will expect their favorite retailers to offer convenient, high-quality voice commerce experiences that make their lives easier. 

In other words, having a voice shopping capability will be the status quo.

Gearing up for 2020

At Blutag, we’re gearing up for massive 2020. 

Those who have already deployed voice shopping apps will look to improve user experience and increase voice traffic. Those who haven’t will have a lot of catching up to do before next year’s holiday season.

Start the new decade off right by building out what will become an instrumental piece of your omnichannel retail strategy.
Create a virtual voice assistant for your brand today with Blutag.

5 Keys to Driving Voice Shopping Utilization

Voice shopping is no longer a hypothetical reality. It’s here, and it’s transforming eCommerce forever. 

Now, that retailers have realized they need to build and deploy voice shopping capabilities, the challenge lies in driving utilization and generating meaningful revenue. 

Increasing number of retailers are starting to offer voice shopping experiences for customers today. However, it isn’t enough to launch a voice shopping assistant and expect it to create value for your business or customers. 

In the modern eCommerce landscape, voice shopping applications must be built well, marketed effectively, and easy to use. Otherwise, retailers risk pouring time and money into adding voice shopping capabilities that do not add real value for their customers.

As consumers grow more comfortable with voice shopping, it will become increasingly important for retailers to offer consistent and predictable experiences that make online shopping easier than ever before. 

Below are five essential tips for launching voice shopping apps that consumers love. 

#1 – Do Less, Not More

One of the biggest mistakes that retailers make when jumping into voice shopping is that they try to do too much. Voice capabilities should augment a retailer’s existing eCommerce presence, not replace it. 

Many companies try and replicate all of the functionality that exists on their websites instead of investing in what makes voice shopping unique. Don’t concern yourself with offering premium functionality or customizable shopping carts, as customers don’t expect these features for products that they purchase over voice. 

Many retailers also tend to add voice shopping capabilities for their entire catalogs rather than focusing on items that drive the majority of revenue (think 80/20 here!). Start with high-margin goods that customers buy repeatedly. Replenishable items, such as coffee and makeup, are excellent candidates for voice shopping as consumers purchase these items often. 

Narrow your scope and build a powerful voice application that does a few things extremely well. You won’t win long-term loyalty with an unfocused voice strategy. 

#2 – Give Customers Reasons to Come Back

Once customers have made an initial voice shopping purchase, give them compelling reasons to do it again. You need to create stickiness early and convince shoppers that they have found their new go-to approach for particular items. 

For example, offer discounts and promotions on goods that are specific to voice assistant usage. After customers buy voice-friendly items, give them a discount  on their next purchase of that same item only if they use their Amazon Echo or Google Home device again. 

Another strategy would be to provide valuable information to shoppers about their favorite products or past purchases through voice assistants. Configure your voice apps to offer order status updates or alert shoppers about upcoming events or deals. 

Don’t just expect shoppers to return without a reason. . Incentivize them to use your uniquely powerful voice app over other retailer’s voice assistants. Prove that it is your customers’ best interests to continue voice shopping with you and only you.

#3 – Reduce Friction 

With any innovative technology, there are obstacles that must be overcome before users or customers are fully on board. Voice shopping is no different.

Reduce as much friction as possible for customers when they are first beginning to use your voice shopping app. Limit account linking and authentication requests to use cases that absolutely require them as these steps may get in the way of shoppers making initial purchases. 

Do not ask consumers to create online profiles right off the bat or force them to confirm email addresses. Doing so works against the hands-free promise of voice shopping and does not convince customers that they can interact with your brand without screens. 

Only after you have established trust with your voice shopping customers should you ask them to create online profiles and link social accounts. 

#4 – Tell Customers What They Can and Can’t Do

It is critical in the beginning to let your customers know what they can do with your voice app. 

Don’t expect shoppers to understand how to use their smart devices to purchase goods from your store. Tell them exactly what to say to their Voice Assistant and highlight things they can do using voice. The welcome message when the user first starts the skill should guide the user by saying something like, “Welcome to XYZ Store, how can I help you?  for example, you can say re-order my Coffee or where’s my order?” 

You can get a lot of que’s on situational design from the Alexa Design Guide, its required reading for everyone working on our product :-).

There is no reason to be coy or mysterious here. Be upfront and explicit so that shoppers have full confidence when they go to make their first voice purchases. 

#5 – Promote, Promote, Promote

You must be aggressive at promoting your new voice shopping capability. 

Study what shoppers do on your site on a repeat basis and build your voice app to replace those manual activities. Then, let customers know that what they are doing with their fingertips could easily be done through voice. Make it obvious on your site and in your marketing materials that you offer this intuitive and time-saving shopping experience. 

Your voice application should be easily accessible and visible where it creates the most value for shoppers. For example, use your order confirmation emails as opportunities to tell customers that they can check on the status of their orders via voice. You can also easily create awareness by sending coupons through emails that explain how shoppers can check for the latest promotions using voice. 

Even though many consumers are aware of voice shopping, they may not realize that you offer the capability.

Tackling the Next Revolution in eCommerce

With these tips, you are ready to optimize your voice shopping app and drive utilization. 

If you are looking to delight your customer using a voice shopping skill, Blutag can help you create those experiences quickly without any coding. To learn more about our platform, create a free account today.

The Key to Building Customer Loyalty in the Future? Voice Shopping

The secret’s out about voice shopping — it’s the next revolution in e-commerce.

As smart speakers flood the market, more and more retailers are deploying voice assistants that enable consumers to shop hands-free. Every day, these voice assistants are becoming more skilled at understanding user intent and engaging in intelligent interactions.

This means voice shopping experiences are only getting better.

In the near future, voice shopping will be essential for turning passive consumers into life-long customers. Without voice capabilities, retailers will miss out on tremendous revenue potential and lose ground to their more innovative, forward-thinking competitors.

To predict how quickly voice shopping will rise in e-commerce, we look at mobile shopping as a precursor for things to come.

Mobile E-commerce Growth Foreshadows Voice Shopping’s Future

When mobile commerce (“m-commerce”) first surfaced, consumers were slow to jump on board. Shopping experiences on mobile devices were clunky. Customers still found it easier to use desktops to browse and purchase goods online.

As time passed, retailers became more mobile savvy. They built intuitive mobile storefronts and optimized the handheld shopping experience. At the same time, consumers grew more comfortable with shopping on-the-go with their smartphones and iPads.

Between 2016-2017, mobile shopping’s share of total online shopping doubled. 2018’s Black Friday / Cyber Monday weekend witnessed unprecedented online m-commerce activity. Over five days, more than $2 billion in sales went through handheld smart devices, an 18% increase over 2017.

Mobile commerce has provided retailers with another medium through which they can sell their products and build loyalty with customers. Those who haven’t yet optimized their online stores for mobile shopping are behind the curve.

With voice shopping, there is still time.

Voice Shopping Capabilities Today Means Success Tomorrow

Voice shopping isn’t a far-off reality. It’s here.

In 2017, voice shopping accounted for $1.8 billion in sales. This figure is expected to skyrocket to $40 billion by 2022. Compared to mobile shopping, voice shopping is growing 2x faster.

Right now, consumers often use voice assistants for reordering household products, such as toothpaste, toilet paper, and laundry detergent. Many are also turning to voice shopping to purchase goods in bulk. Without having to launch a single browser, shoppers are able to make purchasing decisions for a multitude of products, from beauty supplies to groceries.

And those who shop with voice are highly likely to continue doing so.

Voice shopping experiences are improving significantly as smart speakers grow more sophisticated. These devices are starting to surpass the level of customer service that in-store representatives can provide. For example, smart speakers can pull information from a variety of data sources in order to present shoppers with high-quality, tailored recommendations that are based on past behaviors and purchases.

A representative sampling conducted by PWC found that 72% of Americans have used a voice assistant. According to Juniper Research, 55% of homes will have smart speakers in the next four years. That’s 70 million households in the U.S. alone. By 2022, there will be 870 million voice assistant devices across the country.  

The combination of technological advancement and smart speaker prevalence is setting the stage for voice shopping to evolve into one of the most important sales channels for online retailers. In the future, customers will be lost and won over voice shopping capabilities.

Surf the Voice Shopping Wave With Blutag

In 2019, it’s critical for every retailer to develop a voice shopping strategy.

Voice shopping is growing much faster than mobile shopping, which is now a core component for any successful online retailer strategy. Those who wait will quickly fall behind and miss the next e-commerce wave that will separate the online shopping field even further.

Interested in learning about how Blutag can help you deploy a voice shopping assistant and strategy for your company?

Contact our team today.

4 Reasons Why Every Retailer Needs A Voice Shopping Strategy In 2019


This week, Amazon reported that Alexa voice shopping tripled during the 2018 holiday season over the previous year. This announcement puts an exclamation point on voice shopping’s recent exponential growth and highlights the huge opportunity in front of online retailers. Although still in its infancy, it’s more clear now than ever that voice shopping will be the next revolution in eCommerce.

As smart speakers and voice-activated devices become more sophisticated, buyers will increasingly expect that their favorite brands offer a voice shopping interface. Here are four reasons why every retailer needs to develop a voice shopping strategy today that capitalizes on the next wave of eCommerce innovation.

1. Voice Shopping Is Growing Quickly

In 2017, voice shopping accounted for $2B in total sales and is expected to reach $40B by 2022. Already, voice shopping is growing 2x faster than mobile shopping and is becoming the next big “touchpoint” in online retail.

Customers are increasingly using voice-activated smart devices, like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, to order all types of products. Adobe recently predicted that 50% of US households will have smart speaker devices by end of 2018 holiday season. Looking at the reports of Alexa devices selling out a week before Christmas reinforces the dominance of voice assistants.

2. Clear Early-Mover Advantage

Those who build voice shopping capabilities today create significant early-mover advantage for themselves. With so few retailers currently supporting voice shopping, there is little competition to offer a differentiated experience and establish long-term loyalty with consumers.

Buyers already see tremendous value in using voice shopping for goods that they tend to re-order, such as household items, beauty supplies, and groceries. By capturing these customers early, direct-to-consumer brands are building solid user bases that will continue to grow over time.

Even in its early stage, voice shopping is a valuable interface for retailers as it creates real value for early movers and helps them capture a higher number of impulse buyers.

3. AI & Natural Language Understanding (NLU) Improving

The technology behind voice shopping is improving rapidly. AI and NLU have taken major strides in recent years, making it much easier for smart devices to identify user intent.

Retailers can embed their voice shopping applications with AI that is able to provide personalized recommendations to buyers based on their tastes and preferences. Additionally, survey results indicate a 74% satisfaction rate among those who use smart speakers which is due in large part to advances in NLU. As NLU improves, users will have smoother interactions with their smart speakers and order more products via voice shopping.

4. Voice Shopping Trajectory Similar To eCommerce

Much like how websites, SEO, and mobile apps have become “must-have” features for successful retailers, voice shopping, too, will be essential for the future of commerce.

In the past, those who were able to adopt strong SEO practices early in the eCommerce movement dominated onlines sales before the space grew overcrowded. Voice will become more important as adoption increases and competition floods the market.

In May, Amazon released the CanFulfillIntentRequest interface which is the voice equivalent of what used to be search optimization that is still essential for online discovery. It is only a matter of time before paid voice-specific searching and optimization is widespread.

The Time Is Now

As more and more consumers grow accustomed to shopping via voice, online retailers need to move quickly in order to keep up with demand and a rapidly evolving retail landscape. The barriers to entry for voice shopping are low and the value it creates for customers is undeniable. Online retailers that invest in voice shopping now will remain ahead of the curve and be ready to capitalize on the explosive growth projected over the next several years.

Blutag provides easy-to-use solutions so that retailers can develop and deploy voice shopping experiences without any deep technical knowledge or expertise. To get a better sense for how Blutag can bring voice shopping success to your store, create your own voice assistant here.