Just when we started to settle into the fact that consumer data is readily available with a simple click, technology upgrades again.
Emerging as one of the top 10 retail trends for 2016, in-store voice-enabled search is on the path to revolutionize the way shoppers engage with their favorite businesses. When shoppers use voice technology to find their favorite products, search speed increases three to four times.
What does this mean for new store owners? It means providing assistance to in-store shoppers looking for products will become easier. For example, if a consumer is looking for a specific title at a bookstore, all they have to do is ask. Voice-enabled search readily provides shopping results by simply asking a website or a search engine, “Where do I find the book, ‘How to Have a Good Day’ by Caroline Webb, and how much does it cost?”
“Voice-activated search underlies the objective of retailers – namely to get shoppers to the item they’re looking for quickly and easily. It’s a business-driven application,” Vasisht says.
In fact, voice technology will allow retailers to enhance their customer experience in-store by making large stores less intimidating, which will ultimately drive higher engagement, greater satisfaction and increased loyalty.
Although voice search is still in the beginning stages of development for retail, it’s quickly becoming more widely utilized in platforms other than Google and other large search engines. Vasisht reports a growing number of larger companies are beginning investigate voice technology, including Amazon, with the recent introduction of their own Amazon Echo. This new device looks similar to a small speaker. It is backed with an artificial intelligence platform that allows it to function as a personal assistant, smart home controller and more.
Using a light ring and wake sound as its warning, the Echo stays on alert awaiting a command. Once its “wake” word is spoken, Echo records the audio, which is then streamed over the web to Amazon. From there, it is analyzed and turned into a command. Echo can also be used to check appointments on your Google calendar, ask how late your local pharmacy is opened or – the one thing Amazon is betting on – make purchases at your favorite retailer.
Other voice recognition systems interpret what somebody is seeking without using actual human interaction, although the technology incorporated into many platforms today suggests voice-enabled search has been linked equally to human level interaction.
Because voice-enabled search and recognition is hands-free, it is quickly becoming a preferred method of search and tech interaction. Many technology experts believe voice-enabled search will soon arise as the default technology for most services, including assistance in retail settings.
There have been a few logistical issues that developers are still working out. But, the trend toward voice-enabled technology and retail integration is accelerating in order to create easier, faster, more relevant and rewarding experiences for consumers who hope to engage quickly and complete a transaction with a simple voice request.