With everything changing and "new normals" being created for the foreseeable future, retailers need to be looking at new ways to build brand and drive commerce.
Retail is centered on customer engagement and their satisfaction with the experience. It’s all about gaining approval based on atmosphere and offerings. The shopping experience is not only about understanding customers wants and needs, but also about empowering them to be an active part of the experience. As the future of retail transitions further away from brick and mortar and fully embraces e-commerce, voice is a hands-free option that enables retail brands to create and preserve unique retail brand experiences from anywhere.
For retailers, the focus must shift from in-store engagements, and onto digital experiences that create a desire for customers to return and inspire customers to engage beyond commerce. Voice has the potential to breathe new life into traditional brick-and-mortar retail brands during times of social distancing.
More than 20 percent of voice-based orders are used for grocery shopping. With 55 percent of today’s youth using voice technology with their smartphones and other devices, voice has arrived and will continue to evolve as this younger generation adapts with it. Hand in hand with this growing desire and dependence on shopping using voice technologies, by 2022, sales project to reach $40 billion.
John Andrews, retail legend best known for innovating customer packaged goods (CPG) and the shopping experience for more than 25 years, recently shared on Beyond Voice that he believes that the future of retail will best be enhanced by utilizing voice.
“From pizza to basketball game tickets - voice commerce, via our digital assistants, will become second nature for us”
- John Andrews, CEO of Photofy
So how can retail build on voice today? What kinds of experiences should you be thinking about? What opportunities do you tackle first?
Forget About Forgetting
In many households across the world, families have begun to introduce voice technology into their everyday lives, through Amazon Alexa and Google Home. They can browse the internet without lifting a finger, making shopping not only easier but even more accessible. Running low on toilet paper? Just ask Alexa. Cooking dinner and realizing you need a new spatula? Call out to your personal digital assistant of choice!
At the moment when we realize we need something, we tend to make a mental note for later and end up forgetting the item or service until you need it again and kick yourself for forgetting in the first place. Instead of waiting for clean hands or a moment to jot down your thoughts, you can just call out what you need. So, not only will you not have to worry about forgetting, but you also won’t be wasting time.
What does this mean for retail brands? The time is now to build experiences on voice and invite your customers to engage - make orders, book appointments, and more. The sooner you get your brand into your customers' ears via endpoints like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, the better positioned you'll be to invite them back to your stores once business gets back to normal. Today, more than ever, Voice needs to be a key variable to your customer experience, sales, and marketing planning.
Unfocused Retail Experience
The majority of the current retail experience for consumers requires a lot of attention and focus at every turn. Whether consumers are braving the trip to “Brick & Mortar” storefronts, ordering via mobile, or ordering via their laptops - all of these experiences require intention and focus that, let's be frank, busy people are sorely lacking.
Voice for retail is an experience that allows consumers to do one thing while ordering their freeze dried kale or some new workout gear. They can order while cooking, while driving, while knitting, or while doing yoga
For retail brands, this is an opportunity to make your brand experience more convenient and synergistic with the busy lives of consumers. Getting your brand into the minds of your consumers is key here, however. There is a big difference between "Alexa, order a new spatula" and "Alexa, order a new spatula from Oxo." If you're Oxo, you're clearly winning with one and losing with the other. How soon retailers get started with Voice will define who wins in the growing channel.
Household Names, Redefined
Let's be practical, the days of consumers putting up with waiting on lines at stores with their arms full of items, pushing an annoying cart with a wonky wheel, or carrying a heavy basket have been coming to an end for some time. The current social distancing climate just makes the situation more pressing for retailers.
Yes - this definitely leads to investment in digital channels for consumers by retailers. Voice, as one of these channels, needs to be part of retail investment and part of the consumer experience.
Voice gives retail brands, of any size and scale, the opportunity to become a household name. When consumers begin speaking out their favorite brands in order to make their purchases from home via voice, the brands that win are the brands that are not only recognizable but present. Even the most established brands need to begin engaging consumers via voice today to soften the landing of the free fall retail is experiencing and will continue to experience in these coming months.
Call for Service
Society craves ease of access when purchasing their products, but an aspect of shopping that will also be positively affected by using voice technology, especially in the context of social distancing, will be services. Service providers can build new membership experiences and offerings via voice to supplement in-person service delivery options.
This scenario, services via voice, can be automated and is scalable by nature. Accountants, fitness trainers, hair stylists, and more can leverage voice today as the way to create value and convenience for clients while differentiating themselves.
Delivering Consumer Support
Voice empowers consumers way beyond the search bar. No longer are we "searching" for something with voice, we’re just simply asking. Consumers ask and voice-powered brands deliver directly. Whether you're a retail brand or service provider, voice is your go-to-option to delivering truly personal and conversational support that is automated and scales with your growth. Voice is a fundamental tool consumers will turn to for more than just weather or timers. How you deliver your brands support via voice is fundamental to your brands growth success today and in the future. Offer a FAQ, make your hours of operation and services available, collect information on your engaged consumer, and provide community services - all via voice.
Ordering goods and services and accessing business support services using voice technology will become second nature. When we introduce these technologies into our homes, we begin to get more creative with how we use them and what kinds of roles they begin to play in our schedules. Your mission, as a brand and business, is to create compelling and creative experiences that add value to your consumers, and build your brand in a way that carries forward well beyond the home and well beyond these stressing times.