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The Race Is On For The Top Spots In Voice Search

Smart speakers such as Google Home and Amazon Echo, are here to stay! You can look at this in two ways, either new opportunities or new headaches for the world of eCommerce, all depending on how excited you are for the shift in voice search.

According to a recent survey by, one in five households now have access to a smart speaker. That is a lot of people asking voice assistance for the likes of directions, recipes, music and, increasingly to make purchases too. Of those 47 million who own some sort of smart speaker, 57% have then made a purchase using it! This is great news for the world of eCommerce.

For any brands that rely heavily on eCommerce, voice search is a big game changer, and right now it’s a very competitive race to the top spot of voice search results!

Customers really do like voice shopping

Being able to ask your Alexa to stock up your shopping carts is more than just a novelty, as it represents a sea change in the very way consumers prefer to shop.

As more and more consumers become used to being able to simply ask their smart speakers for purchase suggestions, the brands that got onboard early are the main brands that get the most recommendations.

A great example of this would be when Virgin Train launched their travel industry first with its move to start selling train tickets through Alexa here in the UK. Users are now able to simply ask their Alexa not just for train times to cities but can also buy their tickets without ever opening their laptops or tapping into their phones.

Voice shopping means more power for Amazon and Google

The move to sell products through voice search also means that early adopters get the sale, since both Google and Amazon control which products are recommended. Users typically won’t specify what brand they’re looking for, so instead of them asking Alexa for “Virgin Train Tickets,” they’ll simply ask for “train tickets.” This means Amazon will more than likely recommend products available via Prime, meanwhile Google could give preferences to products optimized for its algorithms.

With that in mind, a few brands are currently exploring partnerships with one or the other. For example, Argos which recently announced its partnership with Google Assistant makes it far easier for their customers to purchase products from its physical catalogue via voice assistant. It’s worth noting that Argos is owned by major supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, which is facing direct competition from Amazon Prime Pantry!
For Argos, this represents another channel through which they are hoping to stave off strong competition from Amazon as it’s Amazon Echo device is slowly but surely moving into even more homes up and down the country.

Voice-first means being useful

Making the most of voice search is about much more than simply just showing up. First and foremost, brands need to provide value, especially since consumers remain ambivalent about their speakers.

Making the most of voice search is about much more than simply just showing up. First and foremost, brands need to provide value, especially since consumers remain ambivalent about their speakers.

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According to a recent study by ReportLinker, 31% of consumers list privacy concerns as one of the major drawbacks to owning a smart device. But at the same time, 90% of smart speakers owners are wishing they could do more, suggesting that the best way to stave off privacy concerns is to add value.

For the brands hoping to come up at the top of voice search results, the secret to providing that value is changing the ways they think about SEO. Unlike the more traditional forms of SEO, which relies on keywords, voice search is far more focused on answering questions. Consumers might type in “Free returns hiking gear,” into their search engines but they’re much more likely to formulate that same information as a question for voice search. Thinking carefully about what questions an eCommerce brand answers, not to mention creating a more robust FAQ page, is a great way to add value for users frustrated by the fact that their smart devices are listening to them without comprehending their questions.

Whether your ready or not, change is on the way!

At this point in time, voice-first eCommerce is still in its infancy, and the brands testing the waters seem like novelties. However, by 2020, as much as 50% of our day to day searches could be voice-based and the companies that prepare now will have a leg up in a space that’s sure to be overpopulated and crowded.

As voice and gesture devices become more mainstream, and especially as brain-computer interfacing edges ever closer to reality, retailer and brands need to act early to make a play in the market; voice experiences take time to develop, require plenty of AI training and trial-and-error before they can be fully functioning.

At the end of the day, brands that fail to act today could soon find themselves scrambling in order to try and keep up.