One year, all the rage was blogging. Then came Vlogging and YouTubers. Afterwards everything went mobile and now we’re talking to our gadgets, to Alexa and Siri and, finally, to an eCommerce shop.
During the 2016 holiday season, for instance, the Echo was Amazon’s best-selling product. If you don’t know what the Echo is, it’s basically a listening robot you can ask questions whenever you want. Well, the Echo as a bestseller is just one illustration of how voice search is adapting and what it means for SEO experts and marketers everywhere.
Why will voice eCommerce be a big thing? Some data to back it up
BigCommerce reports that by 2021, mobile ecommerce sales are expected to account for 54% of total ecommerce sales. Voice shopping is the latest trend shaping the future of mobile commerce. It’s impossible to think of voice and mobile shopping as separate entities — these two experiences are forever intertwined. Customers now expect the convenience and speed of asking Alexa to complete a purchase in every mobile shopping interaction. Retailers should rise to the occasion to meet these expectations.
Optimism for the voice shopping market leans heavily on the future: Juniper forecasts that this market will skyrocket to $80 billion in 2023. Technology advancements that introduce new devices like smart speakers drive the massive growth predictions for this segment. According to the U.S. Smart Speaker Consumer Adoption Report published by Voicebot and Voicify in 2019, voice shopping increased with 66.4 million U.S.-based smart speaker owners in 2018. That means 26.2% of all U.S. adults has access to a smart speaker.
Voice searches are expected to reach 30% of all online searches by 2020, a number that indicates a beginning of a transition that is industry-changing. Other features will be following such as AI and other smart features that are expected to dominate the scene in the very soon future creating a disruption that will be just the beginning to lay the base for a whole new level of change.
The usual tech suspects have already cashed in on the voice shopping boom. Users can interact with voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana to purchase almost anything via a smartphone or a voice-activated smart speaker. These artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistants are shaping not just the devices and interfaces we use, but also influencing entire retail marketing and advertising strategies.
- 41 percent of adults employ voice search daily
- 20 percent of mobile Google queries come via voice
- 50 percent of smart speaker owners have made a purchase through the device in the last year Affluent consumers are most likely to use voice search functionality.
Some of the companies who has already implemented voice search are Starbucks, in a partnership with Amazon Alexa and through voice capabilities withing the Starbucks app you cand order by voice; Domino’s Pizza in US, you can order by voice, without touching the app, Kayak or Spotify.
Limitations and challenges
As with any other new technology, there are, of course, some minuses to be found. Here are a few of the biggest limitations and challenges with voice search and voice shopping.
Speech recognition isn’t perfect
Today’s voice shoppers demand a broad range of options yet struggle with technology’s limitations, such as kinks within the AI interface. A research study performed by Forrester asked Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana 180 questions about products and services and ranked each response as either passing or failing. Overall, the voice assistants failed 65% of the questions. This failure rate may frustrate customers and make it less likely that they will engage with voice-activated devices.
Users are slow to adopt
Another challenge in the voice shopping market is that most consumers haven’t tried it. Keep in mind that this segment is still very small. At the end of 2018, eMarketer projected that voice shopping commerce in 2018 will reach $2.10 billion — just 0.4% of U.S. ecommerce sales. According to a 2019 study conducted by Sumo Heavy, fewer than one in five consumers have shopped using a voice assistant. Lackluster shopping experiences with virtual assistants that fail to understand commands and requirements to purchase additional hardware may be influencing potential voice shopping users to avoid trying the new technology, leading to the lower than expected adoption numbers.
Add Voice Control to your eCommerce shop
To test the waters, you can add voice search to your eCommerce portal by leveraging speech recognition APIs like Web Speech API supported by Chrome and Firefox. With just a few lines of code, you’ll significantly increase your store accessibility and streamline the entire shopping experience.
If you are ready to dive deeper, integrate a powerful voice-activated chatbot for superior customer service. Just like Alexa and Google Assistant, these chatbots rely on natural language processing to make sense of a user’s input and support natural conversational flow. Underpinned by advanced ML, voice-enabled digital assistants can win your customers’ loyalty with hyper-personalized recommendations and targeted offers — an opportunity too good to pass on.
Giving voice to your eCommerce app can be a powerful move but it requires a well-thought-out approach. What voice do you want your brand to associate with? What words and phrases should your chatbot use to sound relevant to your customers? These are the questions worth asking since you are creating a voice identity of your business.
Optimize your content for FAQs. Being curious by nature, we often voice our queries as questions. Just google what you are trying to market to your consumers and see the People Also Ask section — chances are you’ll find “what,” “when,” “why” and “how.” Having these questions covered on your blog will increase your chances for better ranking in voice search.
Given that voice search
capabilities are drastically altering the way that users phrase their search
queries, it is essential that eCommerce retailers write product descriptions
that sound great when read aloud.
To effectively optimize product pages that aid voice search for eCommerce, it is important to write in a naturalistic way that aligns with typical speech patterns. Failing to do so is likely to result in a page not surfacing for a related query simply because the text was not reasonably lifelike.
Retailers can accomplish this by merely reading their product descriptions aloud to themselves and others to determine if the copy is casual.
A great example of this principle at work comes from Everlane’s “The Day Heel,” in which the product description reads: “A heel you can walk in. All. Damn. Day. The Day Heel’s ballet-inspired silhouette is designed with a rounded toe, a walkable 2-inch block heel, and an elasticized back for extra comfort”.
That’s about as casual as it gets.
Create an On-Site Voice Search Function
It is hard to contest voice search is the future of SEO. Therefore, voice search isn’t just for the major engines. For eCommerce websites that feature a myriad of products, it is wise to invest in a have a smooth-running, AI-driven voice search function to enhance the site’s user experience.
This element could potentially help users navigate the site, place orders or engage with the site in a multitude of other ways.
In fact, 69 percent of eCommerce brands see voice ordering as an opportunity to enhance their online experiences.
Implementing such a feature not only places a brand ahead of the curve, but it also shows customers that the company is genuinely invested in cultivating the best possible on-site experience.
Moreover, sites are likely to gather a treasure trove of keyword data from consumers that allows retailers to further optimize content, product pages, landing pages and other destinations to rank higher in the voice-activated SERPs.
While implementing voice search functionality could cost some merchants more than they would like, it is an investment that positions the brand in the fore as textless search continues to grow in prominence and popularity.
There aren’t yet many voice apps, but you can find what you need by trying this list of 4 best Shopify Voice Search apps: