03/04/2020

Voice Search: How This New Trend Is Impacting Consumer Behavior and eCommerce

Voice search has been a hot topic for several years now. The method of searching is not an entirely new phenomenon and has been shaking things up in the Search Engine Optimization world for some time. In 2020, it also potentially represents one of the most disruptive forces in the eCommerce landscape.  

If you haven’t already, check out the Voice Search SEO Guide to get an understanding of how to tailor your site content to voice search queries.   

There are several notable web development trends that will have an impact on the eCommerce landscape in the coming yearsbut few have the potential to be as disruptive a force as voice search.  

The massive growth in voice search popularity has brought the rise of voice shopping. As a result, there is a pretty noticeable shift in the way that consumers both seek out and engage with information throughout the decision-making process. 

As an eCommerce retailer, you’ve probably heard that consumers are increasingly utilizing voice search when online shopping. But you might be a bit confused about how best to position your business for success in light of this fact.   

To help you understand this new phenomenon, we broke down the basics of voice search as well as some of the ways in which it’s already impacting retail and eCommerce trends:  

What Is Voice Search? 
Voice search is just as it sounds, conducting an online search query using spoken words rather than text. And while admittedly, this isn’t an entirely new concept - Google Voice Search first launched in 2012 – its widespread popularity is very new. This can be largely attributed to the fact that smartphone users now have access to virtual assistants such as Siri (Apple), Amazon AlexaGoogle Virtual Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana wherever they go. 

Gone are the days when voice search was an obscure feature that was offered to the many but utilized by the few. In 2019, one-third of the U.S. population conducted search queries using voice, and 71% of users prefer using voice over typing when they search.1  

What Is Voice Shopping? 
Voice shopping is when users not only search for products or services using voice search, but also complete the transaction using their voice assistant. In 2018, 36% of shoppers used voice to add a product to their shopping cart, and 22% used it to actually make a purchase.2 

As a result, sales from voice shopping are expected to grow to $40 billion by 2020 from $2 billion in 2018.3 

Currently, groceries account for the largest percentage of voice purchases with 20%. (Entertainment products: 19%, Electronics: 17%, Clothing: 8%) 

Due to the proliferation of Amazon Alexa devices, these purchases largely occur within the Amazon marketplace. However, Google Shopping is also common among voice purchases. 

Voice is even playing a crucial role in the buying process in situations when consumers don’t actually use it to complete a transaction. In 2019, 12% of U.S. smart speaker owners have asked their voice assistant to add items to their shopping cart so they could complete the purchase on another device.4 

How Is Voice Impacting Retail? 
The sharp uptick in voice searches has had a noticeable impact on traditional retail purchases as well.  

  • Over half of all U.S. shoppers now use voice assistants to help them conduct product research prior to purchasing.1 
  • More than three quarters of customers reportedly have chosen their voice assistant’s top product recommendation over the brand they originally intended to purchase.4 

Voice also plays a particularly strong role for local businesses, 

  • 53% of smart speaker owners use their device to search for a local business daily. 
  • 75% use their device to perform local searches at least once a week.5 

Who Is Voice Shopping? 
The voice shopping trend hasn’t been limited to one particular age range. In fact, it’s surprisingly least popular among millennials, as only 13% of smart device owners under 30 reported using their device to shop online. 

By contrast: 

  • 43% of owners age 45 - 60 claimed to have shopped with their device.  
  • The second highest rate of usage is among the 30 - 44 bracket at 38%.2  

What Devices Do People Use to Conduct Voice Searches? 
The adoption of voice search hasn’t been limited to users any one type of device. In fact, 27% of smartphone users have conducted voice searches. That number shrinks to 13% and 5% among users of PC/laptops and tablets, respectively.6  

However, the highest use of voice-powered searches is among users of “other devices.” A reported 37% of users have used of devices such as smart assistants to conduct voice searches.  

What Does This Mean for My Business? 
As you can tell from industry predictions and current statistics, voice search and voice shopping aren’t going away any time soon. If you aren’t trying to take advantage of this new opportunity, now is the time. 

Given that the use of voice isn’t limited to users from any one demographic or devicethe search and shopping method opens up a world of possibilities for a wide variety of businesses. Whether you want to increase eCommerce salesattract new customers to a local business, or establish your company as the knowledge leader in your niche – voice can help you accomplish your goals in a way other avenues can’t 

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