Voice shopping using smart speakers and smartphone apps is starting to gain serious traction among consumers, opening up a new “conversational commerce” channel and potentially disrupting the retail sector.
Devices such as Amazon’s Alexa-powered speakers and Google Home, which use artificial intelligence (AI) to respond to human voice commands, are offering new choices to consumers who are looking for more convenient ways to order goods and services.
Voice shopping is expected to jump to US$40 billion (S$54 billion) annually in 2022 in the United States, from US$2 billion today, according to a survey this year by OC&C Strategy Consultants.
“People are liking the convenience and natural interaction of using voice,” said Ms Victoria Petrock of the research firm eMarketer.
“Computing in general is moving more toward voice interface because the technology is more affordable, and people are responding well because they don’t have to type.”
A recent eMarketer survey found 36 per cent of US consumers liked the idea of using a home-based assistant like Amazon Echo for making a purchase.
Amazon’s devices, which hit the market in 2015, were designed in large part to help boost sales, and Google Home was launched a year later.
The use of smart speakers has expanded the possibilities available through smartphone chatbots or text-based systems including those from Facebook and Apple.
“This is growing exponentially,” said Mr Mark Taylor, an executive vice-president at consultancy Capgemini and co-author of a study on conversational commerce.
“We’re getting very used to asking Alexa or Google to do something on our behalf, which makes it simple to switch and say, ‘Hey Alexa, buy me dog food.'”
Capgemini research shows many consumers are satisfied with voice interactions and that this is growing for search and information as well as for purchases and that this is likely to become a dominant mode of consumer action within a few years.
“It’s becoming part of the fabric of our lives,” Mr Taylor said.
The most commonly shopped categories through voice are groceries, entertainment, electronics and clothing, according to OC&C.
For now, most voice-based purchases have been “low consideration goods” such as items consumers have purchased before, said Mr Taylor.
But as people grow comfortable with voice assistants, he sees a potential for growth in “higher consideration” items including insurance or financial services.
An important element will be the tonality and personality established by intelligent assistants that will help companies establish an image or brand.
“People like to talk to human beings because humans give insight and guidance, and AI can do the same thing,” he said.
The “conversational interface” is a tremendous advantage in some situations, said Mr Manlio Carrelli, executive vice-president at LivePerson, which provides technology for firms in online platforms.
“This is like Star Trek,” Mr Carelli said. “I can just say what I want and get it. Consumers don’t care what’s on the back end, they just want to be able to get what they want.”
Mr Carelli said these systems are important not only for sales, but for customer service – reducing the need for dreaded call centres and saving millions for businesses.
“We’re now entering the mainstream for this market. I don’t think you’ll find a single major brand that isn’t looking at this,” Mr Carelli said.
Walmart last month launched a text-based concierge shopping service called Jetblack which uses both artificial intelligence and professional assistants offering buying suggestions as part of its effort to compete with Amazon.
But Walmart is one of dozens of retailers offering voice-based shopping through Google Express as well, along with sellers of flowers, hardware, groceries and other goods.
Domino’s Pizza has embraced this technology, allowing orders through Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Facebook Messenger and other platforms.
In France, Google Home devices can be used to shop at the giant retailer group Carrefour. And retailers in China have been partnering with tech firms for similar services.
According to OC&C, Amazon Echo speakers are used in around 10 per cent of US homes, with 4 per cent for Google Home.
According to the report, Apple is lagging in this sector because its Siri assistant lacks the AI capabilities of Google, and the new HomePod has only just hit the market.
Apple just this year rolled out “business chat”, enabling consumers to ask questions and place orders through iPhone text or voice commands, and see images of products on the iMessage service. Retailers Lowe’s and Home Depot are among the partners.
Some analysts, however, expect more players to enter the market, with speculation rampant about a speaker from Facebook, which now allows business and consumers to connect through Messenger chatbots.
“Voice commerce represents the next major disruption in the retail industry, and just as e-commerce and mobile commerce changed the retail landscape, shopping through smart speaker promises to do the same,” said Mr John Franklin of OC&C.
Amazon integrates Alexa with Microsoft Cortana, preview is out
Alexa, whats today’s weather?
Alexa, turn on light?
Alexa set my alarm?
Oh my god! it even detects pregnancy in recent times.
Many years ago such functionality was termed science fiction, but today top tech companies like google, amazon, Microsoft, apple, Samsung has conquered the fiction and it is all science now. They did this through their respective Google assistant, Alexa, Cortana, Siri,and Bixby powered devices. I just can’t stop admiring Google’s assistant which seems to be one of the best for mobile devices due to its ability to access the vast information on Google itself.
Now, amazon and Microsoft are combining the superpowers of Alexa and Cortana, this integration was first announced last year and illustrated in the beginning of the year at Microsoft build developer conference.
So, in-order to make sure this development is user compatible, a preview has been launched and made available to US based users to test functionality. Although to perform this function and access additional apps and services, you will need to do a summon.
This preview is basically just to get user feedback to enable their engineers enhance the collaboration between alexa and cortana. so,this integration is in its basic state now which requires an awkward process of calling up one in another.
To try out alexa on cortana on a windows 10 pc, you have to say “Hey cortana, Open alexa” . And to try cortana out on an Echo device you have to say “Alexa open Cortana”
This new development would probably deliver more experience on these assistants especially on windows Cortana which it’s development is seen to be static and slow as seen in windows 10 compared to Alexa which appears on fridges speakers,toaster and other home devices
How much do you love these gadget assistants?.
Comment below on the type of assistant you enjoy using, google is always the A game for me.
Alexa Mommy-gram – Mums help yourself with this
Amazon Echo can serve humanity in various ways you may not have imagined yet.
Amazon Echo comes with a feature most babysitters cannot offer – Always stay close to the toddler. Echo is built with “Mummy-Gram or Daddy-Gram feature which will enable you talk with your toddler whom you may do not want to hand over a phone.
The feature works likes voice to text chat between mom and the toddler. The 1- 3 years old can ask Echo to say hello to mum and on the other end, mom will receive a text and likewise reply by a text while Amazon voices it out to the child. Cool stuff if you do not want to play phone tag with a baby sitter.
How does Alexa recognise human voice
Both Alexa and Google have powerful NLU (Natural Language Understanding) running on their cloud. When user speaks to the devices, his speech just transferred to the cloud and with help of NLU, they try to determine the context/intent of the user request, thus able to determine the end of the phrase.
If they are not able to determine the intent (because user didn’t complete the sentence or user never asked a question after uttering the keyword) then a 4–5 seconds of silence determines the end of phrase.
What is Google JBL LinkBar – Google JBL LinkBar explained
What is Google JBL link bar that just popped out as we’re a day closer to I/O, google’s developer’s conference ? Well. Google JBL LinkBar is a voice command device made by the partnership of Google with JBL. It’s a voice controlled device with in built google assistant and Android TV. Designed to give the ever growing Android TV users a voice control over what they’re watching. It is a Rectangular bar shaped and black in color according to video below.
Okay great, what about Google home ?.
Google Home still exists but I think JBL link bar is intended to help Google Home Artificial intelligent assistant with basic tasks that has to do with TVs like – Turning on the TV, Changing channels. JBL can control other AI linked gadget just like google Home by voice , but I think it was made just for TVs.
Watch this video below:
You may want to know that JBL comes with four HDMI inputs, no sub-woofers, optical, line-in and Ethernet. And we don’t know about the pricing yet. Ridiculous how the length of the bar is almost the same with a TV.
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