At the 2021 Groceryshop exhibition, Carrie Tharp, VP of Retail & Consumer for Google Cloud, outlined the immense growth of ecommerce in the wake of COVID-19 with a statistic that has subsequently gone viral: Since the start of the pandemic, global searches ending with the key search signifier "in stock" have increased by 800%—a true testament to the rise of online shopping as a key touchpoint in consumers lives.
"It goes without saying that the way we shop for groceries has certainly changed forever—I don't need to tell you guys that," Tharp said, "but what we've seen in research is that it takes 66 days to form a habit. When we first started the pandemic, most of us thought we were going to be at our house for two weeks or three weeks, so we ordered some stuff online. We did some searches for toilet paper. But the reality is we settled in for a lot longer than that, and [in] the high-frequency category, like grocery, we've now really set new patterns and behaviors that will stay for a long time."
Tharp emphasized two of the more salient themes covered by Groceryshop 2021: consumers shift towards online sales channels to answer their immediate shopping needs, and the rise of new technologies and platforms working to monetize that need and respond to the demand of a rapidly growing market.
The Future of Shopping is Going to be "Easy, Intuitive and Helpful"
According to insights culled from Google, though the pandemic has slowly receded, it has left a lasting mark on the way customers interact with omnichannel shopping. In the grocery and CPG shopping landscape, customers are increasingly moving from completing sales on laptop computers to smartphones and tablets, perhaps a consequence of a remote hybrid working culture that provides consumers with ample time to make use of personal mobile devices.
Customers around the world are seeking a more rigorous and seamless "end-to-end" digital experience "that exposes them to all the different capabilities that you might have from an omni perspective," she explained. For customers, this increasingly means a platform that can more seamlessly integrate personalized customer insights from the back end with a front-end user experience that harmonizes the user experience to deliver the interactive experiences consumers are gravitating towards.
Google has worked hard to achieve partnerships with retailers to deliver more highly personalized shopping experiences by integrating information about products, store hours, and policies into systems that allow purchases to be completed and inventories queried using voice-powered interfaces.
"So as a consumer shopping and looking around, wondering if [your store] has the inventory, you can have a branded interaction with them on Google," Tharp explained. "So you're capturing a trip before you might even lose it. Somebody else might have popped something up in front of that customer digitally, and they might've gone to a different store. So it allows Albertsons to have a branded interaction with that customer, even if the customer never makes it to their own site."
Tharp also outlined Google's desire to integrate voice commerce into its global business further. She considers the growth of voice the logical next step of evolution for the ecommerce industry. She believes in a future where humanity will be tethered to smart devices that provide the answer to life's most pressing issues with the press of a button and the recitation of a few simple magic words.
"It is one of the top things we're now working with global grocers on enabling—to say, what is that future evolution of experience, where I can just talk to my device or my phone and have a recipe or ingredients added to my shopping list without even thinking about it?" Tharp said.
For Google and its senior leaders like Carrie Tharp, the future of shopping is going to be "easy, intuitive and helpful." Customers will arrive at highly personalized platforms to find a very seamless and integrated system that allows them to move through an inventory, ask questions, and complete purchases without touching a screen.
In this emerging and near future, voice technology will take center stage in people's lives, complementing in-person and online shopping. As brands further harness the full potential of voice, we will see the rise of new forms of conversational commerce that will dramatically exceed what is possible right now. The future of voice-powered retail is quite bright indeed.
Blutag is Here to Deliver a More Personalized Voice-Powered Retail Sales Experience
Blutag was designed from the ground up with one clear purpose in mind: to empower brands around the world to harness the power of voice technology to design personalized online retail experiences.
Our simple and intuitive system allows your company to design an interactive voice commerce experience that works with all Alexa and Google-powered smart speakers and voice assistance technologies.
Enjoy access to a feature-rich cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform that integrates with leading ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento, and WooCommerce. Better yet, implementing a Blutag voice technology solution does not require coding and can be finalized in a matter of weeks, not months or years.
The shift towards voice search technology and conversational interfaces is coming about as a result of a perfect storm of opportunity:
The next generation of SEO is moving away from searches based on keywords in favor of how people speak to each other in real life.
Voice search is driven by asking questions, which means tremendous benefits for the brands that can harness this technology to anticipate and answer customer queries.
The global digital transformation of the last couple of years has reinforced customers' connection to smart speakers and assistive voice-powered technologies such as Alexa and Siri.
Implementing voice interfaces allows brands to deliver interactive and personalized experiences while still allowing customers to maintain social distance and choose how much they want to connect.
Increase your ecommerce site's sales conversion rate by delivering the sales channels your customers are already using.