Voice shopping to rise $38B over next 5 years

Amazon Echo nightstand
Voice activated shopping is expected to make a big jump over the next five years. (Amazon)

Voice shopping is expected to jump from $2 billion today to $40 billion by 2022. According to a study from OC&C Strategy Consultants, this surge will be driven by a growth in the number of smart speakers in homes, rising from 13% today to 55%.

There are currently three brands that own the voice shopping space: Amazon's Echo, Google's Home and Microsoft's Cortana. Amazon penetrates 10% of U.S. homes, followed by Google in 4% of homes and Microsoft in 2%. It seems that Apple was once a contender, but now has been left behind due to Siri's lack of AI capabilities and the newness of HomePod. 

So what are consumers buying via voice? OC&C Strategy's report showed that it tends to be stand-alone, lower-value items. The categories shopped the most include grocery, 20%; entertainment, 19%; electronics, 17%; and clothing, 8%. Those making the purchases tend to be younger and affluent, and more likely to have children. 

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The report suggested that in the future, retailers will need to create connected applications that integrate into voice offers. Currently, there are 39 apps on the market within the voice shopping category. 

"In order to properly position themselves, retailers must ask themselves key questions, such as: What objectives am I trying to meet? How should I tailor my voice proposition to meet those objectives? Which AI system is best suited to enabling those objectives? How can I build consumer trust in my product recommendations? How can I make the order economics work?," said Coye Nokes, partner, OC&C. "The companies that are able to answer those questions most clearly are likely to be the winners in this next phase of retail disruption."

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Consumers are still not there yet though when it comes to voice-activated shopping recommendations. In fact, only 39% of consumers trust the personalized product selection of smart speakers and 44% believe the speakers offer the best value selection of products.

If retailers want to gain more customers, they will have to make sure that products are easy to find using AI, as 69% of those surveyed said they know exactly what product they want to buy. Plus, search terms need to be as specific as possible to increase the chances that customers will be able to find that product.