Voice Commerce: Definition, How it Works, and Benefits

March 21, 2024
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Voice Commerce: Definition, How It Works, and Benefits

Voice commerce, also known as v-commerce, is an innovative method of purchasing that has grown in popularity with shoppers worldwide. Rather than using traditional online shopping tools to purchase products and services, voice commerce shoppers use voice commands.

While still relatively new, the voice commerce market is heating up fast. With year-over-year growth of nearly 19% in 2022, this segment of the e-commerce market is set to reach over $55 billion in value by 2026.

Companies that want to boost connections with customers and explore new avenues for revenue growth would be wise to consider voice commerce. Let's explore what voice commerce is and how companies can benefit from this new technology.

What is voice commerce?

At its heart, voice commerce is any purchase or shopping decision that leverages voice-enabled technology. It allows consumers to use their natural language when interacting with digital assistants or smart speakers, such as Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant. This makes voice commerce a profoundly intuitive and convenient way to browse, purchase, and manage products and services.

With the growth of virtual assistants and AI-driven speech recognition, voice commerce enables users to inquire about product details, place orders, track deliveries, and perform various e-commerce activities, all through spoken commands.

The emerging v-commerce trend is actively reshaping how customers engage with brands, offering a hands-free, seamless shopping experience that holds immense potential for the future of online retail.

What are some examples of voice commerce?

Any time a customer uses a voice command to engage with brands or manage a purchase online, we see voice commerce in action, including:

  • Using an Alexa-enabled Echo device to order products from the Amazon online marketplace

  • Adding a product to an online shopping cart through Google Assistant

  • Using a mobile interactive assistant to interact with the bank's app through voice commands

How does voice commerce work?

Here are the required elements that make voice commerce possible.

Voice-enabled devices

First, voice commerce requires a voice-enabled device. This can be a smart speaker, smartphone, or tablet equipped with a built-in virtual assistant, like Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant. These virtual assistants use natural language processing (NLP) and voice recognition technology to accurately interpret and respond to users' spoken requests.

Integrated product and service catalogs

Second, e-commerce platforms and businesses must integrate their product catalogs and services with voice commerce technology. Companies must ensure their content and product data is up to date and voice-optimized before offering secure, voice-enabled payment options. 

Automated payments 

Finally, voice commerce requires automated payments. Businesses need to be able to conduct transactions on behalf of the customers securely once customers provide their card details and authorize it as their preferred payment method on the site.   

Voice commerce benefits

Some of the key benefits of voice commerce include:

  • Convenience and accessibility: Users can shop and complete transactions without the need for a keyboard or touchscreen. This makes voice commands accessible to people with physical disabilities and busy consumers alike.

  • Natural and intuitive options: With sophisticated NLP processing models working in the background, voice commerce enables users to browse and purchase using conversational commands. This reduces friction in the shopping process and helps consumers to get from interest to purchase faster.

  • Personalization: Thanks to a wealth of customized data insights, businesses can personalize interactions and tailor services to the unique needs of each customer. For example, virtual assistants can offer users personalized product recommendations based on their preferences and past purchases.  

  • Efficiency: With a streamlined shopping process, businesses reduce the time it takes the consumer to make a purchase.

Challenges of voice commerce

Despite being a promising technology, there are several adoption challenges businesses must consider before moving forward with voice commerce. 

Consumer privacy concerns

Storing and processing voice data can pose numerous privacy concerns, especially for businesses with no experience handling personally identifiable information. Protecting this data from unauthorized access is crucial to preventing a serious breach of customers' sensitive information.  

Accuracy and misinterpretation

As voice commerce becomes more proficient, voice commands increase in accuracy. However, verifying user identity and intent through voice alone can challenge NLP models. For example, voice commands primarily rely on auditory input, and fraudsters can attempt to impersonate other people by mimicking their voices and speech patterns. Until this process is flawless, some NLPs may encounter issues.

Search engine optimization challenges

Businesses must adapt their processes to include voice search optimization. This will ensure their products are discoverable through voice commands.

Fragmented ecosystems

Different voice-enabled devices and platforms may not always be compatible, making it challenging to offer an omnichannel experience. Additionally, integrating voice commerce into existing e-commerce systems can be complex and costly.

How many people or retailers are using voice commerce?

As of 2023, 43% of consumers say they use voice commerce to research products they want to purchase. Additionally, 40% of millennials say they have already used voice assistants to make purchases. 

The voice commerce marketplace has also steadily increased in line with consumer preferences, with retailers like Amazon, Sephora, and Walmart serving as early adopters of this strategic approach. Meanwhile, financial institutions are starting to explore the potential of voice commerce to make it easier for customers to use their services.

What does the future of voice commerce look like?

As voice commerce becomes increasingly popular, we can expect to see significant personalization efforts through voice-enabled devices and improved NLP that make the shopping experience more efficient and accurate. Additionally, as voice commerce becomes more secure and privacy concerns are alleviated, we can expect to see it become an integral part of the online shopping landscape.

Explore voice commerce with Twilio

Have you started to explore voice commerce for your business? Whether you’ve already integrated tools like live chat or have yet to consider voice-based commerce, Twilio is here to walk you through the process and help you find the tools and solutions that work best for your business.

Twilio Voice offers a scalable voice experience that you can tailor to the needs of your business. With endless options and resources that can offer a more personalized experience for your customers while supporting the productivity of your employees, Twilio helps ensure a more supportive future as you head deeper into the possibilities offered by voice commerce. 

Get started today for free to stay at the forefront of this transformative trend and provide your customers with a cutting-edge shopping experience.