Jon Stine, Executive Director, Open Voice Network

 In Conferences

AI voice drives online retail

Voice is fast becoming the hottest technology in retail

ANALYSTS ESTIMATE THAT AT LEAST ONE IN EIGHT GOOGLE SEARCHES WILL BE BY VOICE THIS YEAR.

Jon Stine, Executive Director at the Open Voice Network, is set to talk about the role of AI-voice at the TCG Summit. We started by asking him what evidence is there that conversational AI (or AI-voice) will be important to consumer-facing industries.

We’re now in the age of digital commerce. The internet is where a majority of shopping journeys begin and where a substantial portion of shopping decisions are made. AI-voice – because of its availability and ease – will soon be a primary way to connect to the internet. We’ll talk to the internet, and the internet will talk back. Analysts estimate that at least one in eight Google searches will be by voice this year. That’s roughly 250 billion voice searches worldwide. In addition, AI-voice availability and adoption is growing at 15-17 percent per year. This portends a major shift in behavior that will ripple through all consumer-facing industries.

Some recent reports indicate that a very small percentage of smart speaker users have actually purchased products using voice. Why, then, do you think conversational AI will be important to retailers?
Although actual purchases by voice in 2018 were minimal, voice-centric shopping – i.e., voice interaction across the decision journey – has now gained in importance. According to a 2019 study of US voice assistant adoption and usage, 28 percent of smart speaker owners, roughly 18.6 million digital, upper income individuals used their voice assistant regularly in 2018 to search for products. The same study found that 15 percent or 10 million shoppers used their voice assistant often in 2018 to purchase products and more than 30 percent wanted to use their voice assistants to get answers from customer service departments. These are tech-smart, upper-income shoppers. If
they ask for you via voice, will they find you?

How do you think retailers will use conversational AI over the next several years? And where do you believe it will create tangible, quantifiable value?
Most will implement conversational AI in phases, starting in the call center. Research shows that consumers are very accepting of voice assistant support for such basic queries as store hours, openings-closures or questions about order status and shipment. Such implementations allow call center employees to focus on complex questions of product information, availability, usage, and sales. Retailers will prioritize the ability to be found and heard in voice-driven search, and develop a brand “voice” to offer category-smart advice – perhaps on new game releases, technology innovations. The combination of voice and vision in a single device will accelerate voice’s role in product selection and transaction.

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