Voice Assistants: Leading the Charge in 2021
If 2020 was the year that e-commerce realized its full potential, then the future belongs to voice commerce. During the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce finally came of age, reaching record revenues and penetrating new user demographics. But the wheels of progress never stop turning, and the growth of voice commerce, and the usage of voice assistants as a whole, will skyrocket in the coming years.
The overall outlook is good though. As of 2020, there are more than 4.2 billion voice assistants in use. With 110 million in the United States alone. Devices of all shapes and sizes have voice assistant capabilities. The market is primed for an explosion of voice-driven shopping.
While the spread of voice-integrated services is inevitable in the long term, what can we expect to see in the immediate future? Here are four voice trends to watch in 2021.
Voice Assistants will Outgrow Mobile
It is estimated that there are currently more than 60,000 voice-enabled devices on the market. Voice’s meteoric rise began with Alexa home speakers and comparable products such as Google’s Echo Dot. From there, voice assistance naturally migrated to mobile devices. Apple has its famous Siri voice assistant. All android phones and tablets have Google’s voice assistant pre-installed. Samsung products have their proprietary assistant, Bixby. And of course, voice commerce revolves around Amazon’s Alexa. So where do voice assistants go from here?
In select markets, integrated voice assistants will make the jump to smart TV products in the coming year. A few select Samsung products have already begun to hit the market, with voice capabilities already embedded in streaming devices like Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick, and Chromecast. While that is a great feature for entertainment purposes, it carries a lot of implications for e-commerce vendors as well.
Beyond 2021, we will see an explosion of devices that are voice assistance enabled, including common household appliances. That means a radical increase in your brand’s visibility, with your customers having multiple means of access to your voice-enabled storefront. No matter where they go.
A More Diverse Offering of Voice Assistants
We know all the big names: Siri, Google, Alexa. In years past, only the biggest tech-based companies have had the resources to build out a proper voice assistant. But as technology has evolved, there’s been a democratization of technology. 2021 promises to bring a much wider array of voice assistance choices to the market.
Starting in 2021, Amazon will begin letting companies build their own custom voice assistant based on the Alexa development kit. With a host of other tech startups on the horizon harnessing similar developmental resources, there will be an explosion of voice assistant options this coming year.
A More Customized User Experience
The retail landscape changed radically during 2020. With customers unable to shop in person, many people turned toward e-commerce giants like Amazon and Walmart for their basic needs. Including paper goods and groceries. New demographics, including the octogenarians of the Silent Generation, began widespread use of online shopping for the first time ever. Increased voice use is a natural consequence.
Younger demographics, like millennials and other early tech adopters, found their home transformed into a full hub of activity. Homes became offices, schools, restaurants, and movie theaters all at once. For many parents, this was a difficult balancing act to maintain. Hands-free shopping methods like voice commerce became an essential multi-tasking tool for the busy professional/parent. So what’s the next step?
Voice commerce has officially penetrated the e-commerce channel, and it has done so to a significant extent. By next year, voice commerce is expected to generate more than $40 billion in revenue, and it seems on pace to continue its upward trajectory well into the decade. The bottom line? Voice commerce is becoming more and more integral to the American household with each passing month.
Now that the average consumer has had a taste of voice commerce, as well as the wider suite of conversational commerce channels that are available, they will demand a wider range of customized, personalized content.
Rep is at the bleeding edge of voice commerce customization. Starting in 2021, Rep added a new service called “Voice Followers.” With Voice Followers, e-commerce vendors can utilize Alexa to deliver content to their customers using push notifications. Sales, specials, weekly tips, recipes, monthly promotions. The sky is the limit. Each vendor is free to utilize Voice Followers to extend their marketing reach as they see fit. Look for a similar level of innovation and customization from the voice commerce industry as a whole.
Voice will Take Center Stage Post Pandemic
This past year, change has been the only true constant that people can depend on. We’ve seen commerce, and its conversational commerce subsets, gain popularity and a significant market foothold throughout 2020. E-commerce has become a mainstay of the global economy. Now it is time for voice commerce to take its rightful place at center stage.
According to a recent Microsoft report, 72% of consumers regularly use the voice search functions on their smartphones and other devices. While purchases have traditionally been a fraction of their older e-commerce sibling’s business, Microsoft reports that half of all consumers expect to integrate voice shopping into their lives during the coming decade. Voice commerce is going to play an important and critical role in shaping the economy going forward. Look for voice commerce experts like Rep to lead the charge headed into 2021 and beyond.
The Future of Voice Commerce
Most economic changes are incremental. A slow accumulation of market conditions, combined with governmental policies, will be forming a general trajectory for the future. Every so often though, the stage is set for radical transformation.
That’s been the story of voice assistants over the last year. We stand at a watershed moment where e-commerce threatens to overtake retail sales later this decade, powered by rapidly-advancing subsets like voice commerce. Now that the technology is in place, look to see it become more refined, customized, and widespread going forward.
If you’re an e-commerce vendor looking to leverage the power of voice to help your business excel, Rep can help you. Please visit us online today to view our platform or contact us directly for a free demo of our product!