It all started with ‘Hey Siri’ and ‘Ok Google.’ Though the voice-based search was introduced by Google way back in 2011, the digital voice assistants made things easy for most people.
With other big-league players like Amazon (Alexa) and Microsoft (Cortana) jumping into the bandwagon with their digital assistants, voice responses have evolved from answering basic queries like weather to more complex tasks like online shopping, leading to “Voice Commerce.”
This blog brings to you some of the interesting voice commerce statistics and forecasts for retailers to prepare for the rising popularity of this interactive shopping mode.
1. The frenzy over voice Commerce and its future growth
Voice Search is one of the most frenzied customer touchpoints right now and that’s for many reasons.
- It’s fast. Searching with your voice is 3.7x faster than typing – Bing.
- It’s conversational, allowing users to search in natural language. 70% of searches on Google Assistant use “natural” language – Google.
- It’s at the center of the home controlling home automation systems through voice.
- It’s part of the daily routine.
- It establishes a more human-like relationship with technology.
- And finally, it’s convenient.
All the above-mentioned factors make it convenient (70% of users prefer voice search because it is fast).
2. Smart speakers drive voice search adoption
Smart speakers are steering the voice search adoption at a brisk pace. Why is that? Back then (introduced by Google in 2001), voice search was for basic queries like weather, playing music, and reminders. Smart speaker devices and connected home automation systems have made it interesting for users leading to more use cases.
Smart speaker penetration in the UK
According to predictions, over 8 billion devices will have voice assistants by the year 2023. Over 20% of UK households already have smart speakers. So it seems like smart speakers will hold a fair share in voice search.
Considering the UK market, 1-in-5 UK households had a smart speaker as of June 2019 (Strategy Analytics). It means 5.8 million homes and a reach of over 10 million users.
Here is the key part. 62% of voice-enabled speaker owners have bought items via voice commerce, according to Invespcro.com. While this statistic is already encouraging, it’s only going to climb up with time.
In 2019, 65% of adults had used voice search through smart speakers at least once a day. And also, we have that Voice shopping in the UK to be worth £3.5bn by 2022 (occstrategy.com). Further, OC&C estimates that $5bn will be spent through voice commerce by 2022 in the UK, representing 3% of online spending.
So the signs are clear. The behavior of users owning smart speakers is indicating a rise in voice search adoption, opening up a sea of opportunities for retailers to leverage.
3. AI is helping search engines understand voice search better – The BERT model
The way users search is now pretty simple, but it is quite the opposite while trying to make sense out of it. Processing search queries are more complicated when an algorithm has to understand a conversational tone.
Voice search started using NLP (Natural Language Processing) and, in 2012, Deep Neural Networks (DNNs) to improve the understanding capabilities.
Google tried and tested different models to train neural networks to come up with faster and accurate results.
The BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) model, which Google introduced in 2018, allowed individuals to train state-of-the-art- answering systems.
On 25th September 2019, Google introduced the BERT model into its search algorithm, Rank Brain. In simple words, the BERT model works by analyzing words (in a search query) and its relation with all other words in the search query. A holistic approach helps the algorithm comprehend better and understand the intent.
Google’s speech recognition technology has a 95% accuracy rate when the spoken language is English
4. Local businesses are the first wave beneficiaries
Among people in the age group of 18 to 64 years, 32% use voice search and 52% of them make use of voice search while driving a car.
A majority of people who search through voice on the go are looking for local businesses like grocery stores, medical shops, restaurants, spa, clinics, and more. Such local searches put in the form of questions give rise to question phrases or keywords.
According to Searchenginewatch.com, question keywords are up 61% year-over-year.
Most of the questions related to locating a local business are done using phrases like “Where” and “Near Me,” “Local,” “Nearby,” while the other actions are like table booking, appointment, reservations, etc.
Local businesses could claim their ‘Google My Business’ (GMB) profile and make sure the Name, Place, and Address information is accurate in all the business listings created on various sites.
Focussing on optimizing content for Google Rich Snippets, using a conversational tone in content, considering question phrases and long-tail keywords are a few among many ideas to optimize for SEO advantage in voice search rankings.
Roughly 75% of voice search results will rank in the top 3 positions for a particular question on a desktop search.
Voice Commerce has already gained a considerable share in search queries and will continue to grow. From mobile phones to smart speakers, voice searching capability will undoubtedly get integrated into day-to-day technologies and smart devices, making it one of the most preferred options for users to connect with brands. All the trends discussed above stand proof for the same.
However, voice search is still a rising trend and has a long way to go in terms of improving accuracy, understanding dialects, and so on. That’s for the tech giants to care for. As an eCommerce retailer, it is better to start optimizing for voice search so that you’ll most likely outrun your competition in voice search rankings and turn your brand voice commerce friendly.