Walker Sands’ 2018 Future of Retail Report – The New Age of Voice Commerce

Amazon dominates today’s retail landscape. If you’re like most U.S. consumers, you probably order regularly from the marketplace. The 2018 Future of Retail report reveals that 42 percent of consumers receive 1-2 packages per week, and that number rises as high as 57 percent for those ages 26-35.

And our research reveals that Amazon leads the charge in another area significantly reshaping how customers interact with brands: voice commerce. As more users adopt voice assistants, they expect more from these devices than the ability to quickly play music or ask for the time. This means retailers must adapt to a zero UI model of e-commerce — one that operates with no visual interface — sooner rather than later.


In our blog series about this year’s Future of Retail report, we continue to examine Amazon’s lasting impact on customer expectations. Here’s what our research reveals about voice commerce and the implications for retailers:

  • Digital assistants will become household staples. Twenty-four percent of U.S. adults (nearly 39 million consumers) own a voice-controlled device. And typically once consumers purchase their first device, they’re eager for more. Of those who own a voice-controlled device, nearly two in five (39 percent) report having at least two devices, and 7 percent report owning four or more devices. Sixty-four percent of consumers who own a voice-controlled device use it at least once a week and nearly one in five (18 percent) use it at least three times a day.
  • Voice-controlled assistants are everywhere (yes, even in the bathroom). The most popular places consumers use their voice-controlled assistants in their homes include the living room (57 percent), kitchen (33 percent) and master bedroom (27 percent). They are open to keeping Images within the study-3these devices in more private places as well, with 14 percent of consumers placing them in their bathrooms. The normalization of voice-controlled devices over the past year means consumers are more comfortable interacting with voice assistants in many different ways throughout their homes.
  • Customers aren’t using devices to their full potential yet. Voice assistants are popular, but most owners use them for basic tasks only. The most popular function? Playing music. Fifty-seven percent of consumers identify that as their go-to task. Our study shows consumers use voice-controlled devices more often as an assistant, rather than a commerce device. Forty-eight percent report using a voice-controlled device to answer a question, 38 percent check the time and 27 percent create a shopping list. In the past year, more people used Amazon Alexa to tell jokes than to connect to their smart home (25 percent vs. 20 percent).
  • Voice commerce is on the rise. As consumers become more comfortable integrating voice into their daily lives, commerce is set to grow in popularity. But barriers to adoption still exist. When asked what might prevent them from shopping via voice, consumers note concerns about security (45 percent), privacy (42 percent) and a lack of visuals like images and videos (35 percent).

Voice-controlled devices are making major impacts on consumer lifestyles in a very short time.Walker-Sands-Cover-530x430 Retailers that understand how customers interact with voice assistants now may be more likely to overcome barriers to adoption down the road. To learn more about voice commerce and what it means for retail, download the full Walker Sands 2018 Future of Retail here. And follow along for the last installment of our three-part blog series.

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Walker Sands’ 2018 Future of Retail Report – The New Era of Online Commerce

Walker-Sands-Cover-530x430Another year, another round of innovations within the retail industry. And this year, the industry’s evolution expands commerce implications beyond the bounds of retail.

Since 2014, we’ve studied some of the most significant developments within the world of retail, commerce and the supply chain. In the past, our reports have shed light on important upcoming retail trends such as the use of drones or the evolution of mobile shopping.

Our 2018 Future of Retail report also takes a look at new and emerging retail technologies. But this year, we focused on connected lifestyles, the expansion of Amazon, the dramatic rise of voice and the need for supply chain optimization.

As consumers embrace connected technology such as digital assistants and hands-free devices, brands and retailers have the opportunity to cater to consumers in new and exciting ways. What’s more, we found that leading retailers are influencing sectors outside of traditional retail – from grocery to pharmaceuticals.

Hungry for more insights? Dig into our key findings below, and check back for two more blog posts that offer a deeper look into some of our most important findings.

  • Younger consumers aren’t afraid to break with tradition. Unlike generations before them, digitally savvy millennials opt for tools and channels that offer information at a moment’s notice. In fact, only one out of four consumers ages 18-25 have cable. This demand for greater value and convenience has also helped drive ownership of connected home devices all the way up to 93 percent.
  • Amazon shapes consumer expectations. Forty-two percent of shoppers receive one or two shipments from Amazon each week. And as the retail giant expands its services with acquisitions like Whole Foods, retailers face pressure to try new strategies for attracting customers – or risk losing wallet share.
  • Digital assistantsFoR Voice5 are far from novelty. Nearly two-thirds of consumers who own a voice-controlled device (64 percent) use it at least once a week, and 50 percent have made a voice-controlled purchase in the past year. As these devices become the norm, a strategy to communicate with customers and enable commerce across channels is a must.
  • When it comes to delivery, speed is the name of the game. Almost 45 percent of consumers have used same-day delivery during the past year. And many consumers are pleased with the speed of Amazon’s delivery services. While 15 percent of consumers say online retailers always meet their expectations for speed of delivery, twice as many say the same about Amazon. Retailers aiming to attract new customers would be wise to satisfy customers’ growing need for speed.
  • Amazon is expanding beyond traditional retail. There’s plenty of excitement surrounding Amazon’s foray into new industries. In fact, more than a third of consumers (35 percent) would use Amazon to fill prescription orders online. Wondering what’s driving this growth? Look no further than the speed and simplicity consumers have become accustomed to. Sixty-one percent of consumers cite the ability to ship quickly as a top reason they turn toward Amazon for prescriptions. Meanwhile, 43 percent enjoy an easier ordering process due to Amazon’s access to customer information.

The commerce experience isn’t as cut and dry as it once was. New technology has set the stage for a connected lifestyle in which consumers can research FoR Alexaand make purchases more easily than ever before. As competitors look to carry over that ease and convenience to other industries, retailers must be prepared to do the same.

To learn more about this new age of commerce and how you can cater to the lifestyles of today’s consumers, download the full Walker Sands 2018 Future of Retail here. And check back for the second installment of our three-part blog series.

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