Recently Blutag founder and CEO Shilp Agarwal spoke at Project Voice X, America's leading event driving innovation and collaboration across the voice tech, conversational AI, and social audio space. This year's event took place in October in Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and was supported by Microsoft and Amazon Alexa as presenting sponsors.
Blutag was proud to stand alongside industry leaders Google, Lenovo, and Deloitte as a supporting sponsor for this year's edition of Project Voice. As America's largest event focused on celebrating the growth of voice technology, Project Voice X brought together some of the most exciting use-cases, companies, and thought leaders from across the industry.
This year's edition of Project Voice was organized specifically to address the following points:
What opportunities have emerged for voice technology and AI as we enter a new chapter?
What opportunities now lie at the intersection of voice/AI and social audio?
Across the event's three-day itinerary, the industry's most successful and forward-looking brands presented a wealth of advanced insights around the evolution of voice-powered technologies.
Key Elements of a Successful Voice Commerce Experience: The Future of Conversational Commerce
Over the last three years, Blutag has had the opportunity to develop industry-leading voice commerce solutions for prominent direct-to-consumer brands using Alexa and Google Assistant. In a very short period, we have watched technologies evolve as consumer adoption rates have climbed.
In Q4 2020, the United States exceeded 150 million smart speaker units sold. In addition, more than 35 million people have completed at least one purchase using voice technology in the last year. These numbers account for an estimated $22 billion generated across a sales channel that did not even exist ten years ago.
In the more recent past, when Blutag was first getting started back around 2017, the voice commerce industry had been able to generate $2 billion. Since then, the industry has grown significantly and will exceed $264 billion by 2025. The industry has been able to defy expectations and continues to grow at a rapid rate.
“To capitalize on this immense opportunity, Blutag set to work looking at the things people do online: browse products, leave reviews, make product selections, complete purchases, to figure out how to bring that functionality to smart speakers and voice assistants,” said Shilp Agarwal. “Right when we got started, many aspects of that did not make sense, especially when trying to resolve how to overcome the challenge of successfully navigating that entire process without the benefit of having a screen at any point in the transaction.”
“We learned early on that customers have minimal interest in having very long and detailed conversations with their devices. Instead, they want to accomplish the things they want more quickly and conveniently. Today, voice technology delivers that opportunity: it's easier and faster for customers to complete purchases using conversational commerce than any other method. This creates real value for brands and provides the convenience that most customers are seeking,” said Agarwal.
“One of the most significant factors that has made that possible is how user behaviors have changed over the last 5-6 years. One of the best examples in recent times of a similar change in user behavior is found when we look at QR codes. They've been around for over 25 years. When they first came out in 1994, no one understood what they were or how to use them,” continued Agarwal. “Today, QR codes are ubiquitous, and even small children understand how they work. The same is happening with voice commerce as more and more people see their friends, family, and colleagues using voice-powered interfaces.”
“Our top three categories are groceries, baby, and pet products. We have seen that brands that have their customers using voice assistance have seen an increase of over 35% in reorder frequency, simply for the same reason that they're able to capture that moment when they're running out of a specific product. When shopping for things like groceries, people want to add items to their cart very quickly and easily. A lot of these smart speaker devices are set up in the kitchens. You are running out of milk. You are running out of eggs. You can ask your voice system to add the items to your shopping list as you realize you need them,” said Agarwal.
“So essentially, what we've done is that we've taken the same experience of being able to add things to your shopping cart and transferred that to a conversational interface. Customers enjoy this convenience, and retailers are seeing a direct correlation between implementing voice tech and increasing the average grocery cart size by 11-12%,” continued Agarwal. “If a customer's shopping cart has about 30 to 35 items, retailers see an additional three, four items getting put into the cart. This is huge when you are at a stage where you're doing deliveries and letting people do curbside pickup. Having those extra items in the cart makes all the difference from a conversion rate optimization standpoint.”
“We learned a long time ago that customers are not interested in having conversations with their mobile devices or computers. Instead, they want the ability to perform actions and simplify their lives. They want convenience and ease to do the things they need to do faster and more streamlined,” said Agarwal.
Customers want to be able to complete the actions they would normally perform: check order status, check for sales coupons, check when a product will be in stock, and performing these tasks in an efficient way is directly related to the ROI for the customer. Once your brand can figure out that ROI, based on metrics such as sales frequency and increasing shopping cart sizes, then you can optimize success in a very manageable and cost-effective way.