Increasingly, we are using voice assistants on smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home and on our smartphones to carry out interactions with the internet. This is undoubtedly convenient for our daily lives, but as we move towards carrying out transactions and actually buying things on these devices, what is going to be the effect on e-commerce web development?

E-commerce and voice

Searching for and buying something online via voice commands rather than using a keyboard and mouse is becoming increasingly common. Consumers like it because it’s fast and it’s possible to multi-task.

You can tell your voice assistant to ‘order’ something and it will check your previous purchase history to suggest products based on your tastes. If it’s something you haven’t bought before then suggestions will be based on popular options bought by other people. Once you’ve chosen a product, the assistant will confirm the price and ask if you’d like to place the order.

The process doesn’t end there, however, you can also ask the assistant when your order is arriving and it will check with the retailer to confirm the delivery date.

Voice and businesses

Voice makes things much easier for the consumer, but what does it mean for e-commerce businesses? In the here and now, anything that makes the buying process easier is going to be good for business. In the longer term as voice assistants move into your car, your workplace and other areas, there’s an opportunity for businesses to build up a more accurate profile of their consumer’s daily lives and therefore be able to offer them a more tailored choice of products.

There are of course some key challenges here. The first is one of trust. Currently, fewer than half of consumers trust the product recommendations they get from digital assistants. [1] When people are looking for something new, they are more likely to opt for more traditional routes where they can see images and read reviews from other shoppers. There’s a privacy issue too, with people worried that the smart assistant is constantly listening and what they say may be getting recorded.

There’s also the issue of accuracy. When we speak, we express things differently from when we type. This means that businesses need to adjust their SEO strategy to better cope with these natural language queries rather than just focusing on keywords.

Voice technology may still be in its early stages, but adoption is growing and the accuracy and usability of devices is improving. People are still learning what the technology can do for them but are starting to adapt. Businesses need to make sure they are ahead of the game and that their online strategy makes their e-commerce voice-friendly or they will risk getting left behind by their competitors who do.