As the use of voice assistants for online shopping is gradually increasing, e-retail companies need to put more focus on the implementation of voice commerce in their business activities. 

While the majority of experts are emphasizing the importance of generative AI solutions in e-commerce in 2024, there’s another accelerating trend, fueled by the galloping evolution of AI-based tech, which has been taking more limelight in the recent months – it’s the voice-search-powered e-commerce (or short: voice e-commerce). 

The Story Behind Voice E-commerce

Here are just a few facts, which still speak volumes. In 2022, over 140,000,000 users in the U.S. alone were utilizing voice assistants, and by 2026 their number is likely to exceed 157,000,000 (per Statista). 

More importantly, according to Statista, back in 2022 almost 27,000,000 voice assistant users in the U.S. utilized these for buying products, and this purchase trend is only likely to climb upward shortly. 

What this means for e-commerce businesses is the utmost advantage of the voice search capabilities, which could be unlocked, but if and only if they’re up for a challenge, of course. 

Specifically, a growing share of major U.S. retailers are on track to enable order placement via smart speakers, for example, these days, while some of them have already done so. 

Key Voice E-commerce Benefits

One of the most visible benefits of voice search for e-commerce is the exceptional convenience of the product search and the seamless purchase flow. The trick is, unlike in the case of the conventional mobile purchase funnel, the use of voice assistants enables curtailing (i.e. optimizing) the search process, while also ensuring the customer finalizes the purchase not even using the smartphone oftentimes.

Another potential advantage of voice e-commerce is e-retailers’ ability to access and utilize a customer’s browsing, search and purchase history, usually available to voice assistants, hence allowing them to provide personalized product recommendations to loyal buyers right away, as well as the somewhat limited (i.e. exclusive) voice-activated offers & discounts.  

Last but not least, a major benefit of voice-enabled e-commerce is the vast scope of options to try out and experiment with. Namely, as the array of smart devices people are using on a daily basis will only expand with time, the further evolution of AI-based predictive analytics solutions will allow online retailers to enhance their omnichannel commerce offers, hence helping them to maximize customer retention and achieve better results according to their sales plan

Potential Challenges Yet to Overcome

As beneficial as voice e-commerce may seem to online retailers, as already mentioned herein, it’s not that easy to get into the game for customers’ attention and choice. In this respect, one of the core challenges to tackle lies in the businesses’ ability to restructure and optimize their online presence to make it fit the voice search specifics. 

First, this concerns the revamp of an e-commerce SEO content approach, so that the provided product listings, for instance, are composed following the natural language patterns, in a concise and clear form, and more importantly, in the way of somewhat a response to a customers’ voiced questions. 

The trick is, as the research reveals, most of the voice search queries slightly differ from those typed in, with a gradually larger share of buyers utilizing the longer, more naturally-structured phrases. And it’s absolutely crucial that the e-retailer’s competitive SEO content strategy needs to address this difference. 

Second, even though some of the top digital payment vendors, like PayPal, are already adding voice-powered payment support to their solutions, most financial operators are still reluctant to enable purchases solely using one’s voice. Certainly, their precautions are justified, given the colossal volume of online financial fraud as a whole, and the increasingly growing number of high-quality audio deep fakes. In view of this, one’s ability to pay for the purchased product via a smart speaker, for instance, isn’t likely to become a commonly available option in 2024.

However, chances are that the two-factor authentication will be adopted in the next 12-24 months, specifically addressing the described concerns, hence unlocking yet another niche of voice-focused solutions in e-commerce.