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ALEXA VOICE SHOPPING HAS YET TO PICK UP: Only 2% of Alexa-controlled device owners have made a purchase via voice so far this year, according to The Information. Among these voice shoppers, just 10% have made a subsequent purchase through voice. Although voice shopping has yet to gain traction on Alexa-powered devices, the hardware is helping consumers become more familiar with leveraging their voice assistants to complete various tasks, which will eventually open the door for voice as a prominent channel for shopping.

There are two pain points within the voice-based device ecosystem that are likely inhibiting consumers from shopping over voice:

  • Discoverability of Alexa skills is inadequate, which makes it hard for consumers to find the voice apps they’re seeking. In 2017, 4 in 5 Amazon Echo device owners in the US used a third-party skill, according to Chief Evangelist for Alexa David Isbitski. However, more than half of these consumers use only one to three skills, and 23% use four to six skills, Dashbot reports. Improving discoverability of Alexa skills — with new Amazon features like CanFulfillIntentRequest — could increase the likelihood that consumers launch retailers’ skills, which would enable them to do things like shop.
  • The absence of a visual prompt is likely preventing consumers from shopping for specific items. Basic smart speakers, which are audio-only interfaces, force consumers to rely solely on their voices to shop, while screen-enabled smart speakers couple voice with visual displays, offering more opportunities to demonstrate a product. Consumers likely want to be able to see what they are buying in order to make a more informed purchase decision on items like apparel. For instance, the apparel category had the largest discrepancy in frequency of purchases when comparing voice shopping to online shopping, according to a 2018 Voysis and Voicebot.ai study.

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