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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 one to two packages per week, and that number rises as high as 57 percent for those ages 26-35.

Our research also 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.

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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 seven 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 versus 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. 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.