News Feature | July 18, 2017

Voice Ordering Is The New Frontier For Retailers

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Amazon Echo

Report finds that one in five consumers had made a voice purchase.

Voice ordering is the next frontier for retailers, according to the f Walker Sands’ fourth annual report, “Future of Retail 2017,” which found that one in five consumers (19 percent) said that they have made a voice purchase using Amazon Echo or another digital home assistant, while another third (33 percent) say they plan to do so in the next year.

“As consumers become even more connected, they will continue to demand a more transparent and continuous commerce experience from brands and retailers,” said Erin Jordan, account director and lead of the retail technology team at Walker Sands. “The walls between channels will continue to fall as voice-controlled and connected home devices reach widespread adoption and the commerce experience becomes fluid. Brands and retailers need to understand the always-on nature of consumers and identify the best way to add value through a consistent experience.”

To understand how new developments in e-commerce have changed retail and the consumer shopping experience, Walker Sands surveyed more than 1,600 U.S. consumers on their shopping habits and expectations.

This year’s study found nearly half of consumers (46 percent) now prefer to shop via a digital channel, such as mobile, desktop or voice-controlled device, up 48 percent over last year. And almost a third of consumers (29 percent) shop online at least weekly, a number that increases to 37 percent for millennials.

The report also found that consumer connectivity will force retailers to offer a more fluid commerce experience. More than 90 percent of consumers now own at least one connected device and nearly a quarter (24 percent) own a voice-controlled device. Another 20 percent plan to purchase one in the next year.

And while ecommerce is growing, the report found that unique brand experiences will keep brick-and-mortar alive. In addition to discounts, consumers say food and beverage offerings (30 percent), personalization (18 percent), live product demonstrations (18 percent) and entertainment (17 percent) will attract them to shop in store.

“In the age of the connected consumer, e-commerce has become about much more than online shopping or the point of sale,” said Dave Parro, partner and vice president at Walker Sands. “The proliferation of technology such as connected home devices, voice ordering and drones have dramatically shifted consumer expectations of retail. Our findings suggest that the in-store experience is not going away, but rather there is a demand for a holistic commerce experience that is consistent, transparent and multi-channel.”