According to a new “Future of Retail” report from Walker Sands, 19 percent of consumers have made a purchase using a voice-controlled device in the past 12 months. The numbers go way up, however, for millennials, with 37 percent reporting “they ‘always’ or ‘often’ shop online via voice-controlled devices.” Among this group, 43 percent made a purchase using voice in the past year.
The data are based on a recent US consumer survey of just over 1,600 adults and can be interpreted in bullish or bearish ways for voice. More than 80 percent of the overall survey population said they had not made a voice-driven purchase and nearly half (48 percent) said they were “not at all likely” to do so.
Security, privacy, “lack of visuals” and uncertainty about price/payment were the top four reasons that people were hesitant to buy on voice-first devices or devices without a screen. Of course, the Amazon Echo Show (with a screen) potentially addresses all those issues; however, the survey was conducted before the Show had shipped.
The survey asked about voice-device ownership. According to the findings, 16 percent said they owned an Echo, 6 percent owned a Google Home, and 2 percent had “more than one” (though not necessarily both). Perhaps most interesting is the finding that 20 percent said they planned to purchase one of these devices in the coming year.
The numbers above should probably not be extrapolated to the entire US population. If we were to do so, it would suggest that there are more than 50 million owners of these smart speaker/virtual assistants in the US today. However, the numbers are closer to 20 million (or so), according to various third-party estimates.
Separately today, Kayak announced the ability to book a room through Alexa, which points to the future of shopping and purchasing through voice assistants.
Once users invoke the Kayak skill on Alexa devices (“Alexa ask Kayak . . .”), it walks you through a dialog wizard about location, dates, ratings and pricing. It can only discuss one hotel at a time and is best right now for booking specific hotels, rather than choosing a hotel from among many. Users must also link their Kayak accounts with a credit card to finalize the transaction.
Nonetheless, it points to a rapidly approaching future where transactions are a routine part of using voice assistants.
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