“Alexa, buy me a pair of trainers.” This request may seem slightly unusual now, but a recent report by OC&C pegs voice shopping as the next big thing in retail, set to impact the industry in the same ways as mobile and apps.
The consulting firm forecasts the voice-controlled market to reach a whopping $40bn (£28bn) in 2022, from the current – and comparatively modest – $2bn (£1.4bn). This translates as growth of 1900%, reports Consultantcy.uk reports, and will be driven by increased uptake of smart speakers at home, such as Google Home and Amazon Echo.
A study from Radiocentre last year, cited by voicebot.ai, predicts that 40% of UK households will own a smart speaker this year, up from 9% in 2017.
It is estimated that Amazon will continue to dominate the sector. The company is able to seamlessly link its online e-retail store with the Echo speaker and Alexa AI engine; it’s committed to selling Echoes at a cheap price in a bid to get them in as many homes as possible, at the same time as encouraging customers to register for its Prime service.
Competitor Apple is failing to keep pace with Amazon in the AI home speaker sector. The tech giant’s Homepod hasn’t long been available and it missed the crucial holiday season in the US, during which Amazon and Google cut speaker prices to boost sales.
Analysts at OC&C have said that Siri, Apple’s AI function, is not as advanced as Alexa, suggesting that Apple still some way to go if it wants a sizeable slice of the voice shopping market.
John Franklin, associate partner of OC&C, acknowledged that voice commerce will be the next major disruption to the retail industry, and will transform shopping just like mobile and e-commerce.
“The speed with which consumers are adopting smart speakers will translate into a number of opportunities and even more challenges for traditional retailers and consumer products companies.”
Rather than being a technology mistakenly forced upon shoppers, it seems voice shopping is what they want. Around one quarter of shoppers in a Capgemini study said they would prefer to use a voice assistant over an app or physical store, while 40% expect to be using the technology instead of an app or website three years from now.
Tech is undoubtedly changing the way consumers shop, and retailers must adapt to stay successful. This is why we’re embarking on a huge digital transformation at River Island and we need experts who can lead us through this change. If you can help us to become a digital leader in the retail space, take a look at our current vacancies today.