• Move over touch – it’s time to make our voices heard

        • With Touch technology firmly part of our everyday lives, James Pepper, Technical Services Director at Vista, explores voice-technology for customer experience, and offers insights into how retailers can use this technology to get ahead of the competition.

          A hands-free world  

          Voice recognition technology combined with artificial intelligence (AI), is now so effective that users can replace the key strokes, touches and swipes that we have been so familiar with for years.

          Any instruction, request or command that you would have typed into a search engine can now be spoken and the intelligent, voice-activated systems can search for items and complete purchases without physical contact.

          This technology, known as voice commerce, will revolutionise the way in which we use the internet and buy goods and services online. It will recognise the device owner’s voice, understanding the request, searching for the right product and completing the purchase without hiccup.

          Voice-activation becomes mainstream

          As smartphone sales level off, voice-activated searching via Apple AirPods, Android mobile apps, Google Voice and Cortana is taking off. Users are steadily becoming accustomed to voice services as a constant presence in their lives for everything from playing music, to ordering cabs and buying groceries.

          In the UK, where uptake has been slower, 37 per cent of smartphone users nonetheless use voice-led technology of some kind at least once a month, with nearly one in five buying a product through voice without looking online first.

          What’s in it for retailers?

          Voice commerce holds out the promise of serious gains for retailers because it is so easy to make a purchase. Amazon claims that Echo owners spend 10 per cent more in the six months after they bought the device than before.  

          The move towards voice commerce promises substantial change and the opening up of new opportunities right across retail, providing us as customers with an easy, interactive channel covering purchase, payment, loyalty, service-functions and order-tracking. Implementing this however, will require expertise.

          How retailers can make it work for them

          As voice commerce becomes an ever stronger force in the way we shop, retail companies of all sizes will have to adapt, constantly appraising new developments and increasing the skills of their teams so that they are not lost in the crowd. This is a technology that already has good reason to shout about its future.

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