Voice commerce

Definition of voice commerce:

Voice commerce is the process or action where consumers use voice commands to search and purchase products online. This helps to reduce the end-users’ dependence on hardware like keyboards and screens.

The evolution of voice commerce

Artificial intelligence is developing quickly. This gives virtual assistants like Alexa, Google assistant and Siri a larger range of words to use and more natural language. This means that providing tailored answers to specific questions increases the audience’s trust in virtual assistants. This trust makes shoppers more likely to use smart speakers and virtual assistants for online shopping leading to an increase in conversational commerce.

When did voice commerce begin?

Voice recognition technology dates back as far as 1961. IBM engineer William C, Dersch created the first-ever voice recognition system, called “Shoebox”. It recognized 16 spoken words but was only used to calculate math problems. Nonetheless, it was the first step into the world of voice technology.

In 2011, voice assistant, Siri, became available on iPhone. Google soon released Google Now. This voice assistant had the ability to anticipate user behavior. It also provided updates on the weather and traffic reports.

How popular is voice commerce today?

The truth is, it’s only the beginning of a time where consumers use voice commands to search and shop online, since some still remain hesitant. Though voice technology and voice assistants aren’t recent innovations, the adoption of voice commerce has been a slow and steady one.

The number of users may be low, but customer satisfaction is high; 80% of users that place orders using voice commerce are satisfied with the experience. This could be an opportunity to increase satisfaction for B2B and B2C customers because voice commerce could be a key component in the purchase process.

Regardless of slow adoption, the future for digital voice commerce is looking bright. The surge in voice-based assistants in the past 10 years (like Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Siri) has consequently led to a parallel jump in consumers looking to adopt voice commerce.

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How does voice commerce work?

Voice commerce is meant to be simple to execute. From a consumer point of view, all you need is your voice and the technology to make the sales transaction take place. Here are the requirements:

  1. You need a device that has an active voice assistant; this can be a smartphone, smart device or specific voice activated devices (like Microsoft Cortana or Samsung Bixby). These devices should include a working built-in microphone with enabled voice commands. Here, you can activate the device with a prompt like “Hey Siri”.
  2. You need to use a trigger word (usually a verb or action) as a catalyst for voice search or voice commerce. For example, if you spoke the command, “Siri, order product XYZ,” “order” would be the trigger word.
  3. In order to implement voice commerce completely hands-free, payment should be automated. Payment can be made through subscription platforms like Apple’s App Store or Amazon Prime where your preferred payment method is loaded.


The main benefits of voice commerce are:


The biggest advantage of voice commerce is how easy and quick it is to use. All you need to activate it is a device with a voice assistant and your own voice. It allows consumers to shop when they’re cooking, multitasking, or even driving. Purchasing products online has never been easier with hands-free voice commerce. Customers don’t even have to log in or fill in their personal details on a company’s web store to purchase a product online: saving valuable time and maximizing ease.

Improved customer experience

In most cases, you will need a subscription to a platform to make use of voice commerce. This may be a barrier to entry but in fact, increases trust and boosts motivation to place orders. Let’s take Amazon’s Alexa for example, Amazon Prime makes it easy to place, track and cancel orders and here you can ask for exclusive discounts. Devices can then gather more data from their owners and use this data to create a more personalized experience by recommending products and recognizing purchase patterns.

Personalizing buying experiences

In the same breath of offering exclusive discounts, devices can then gather data from previous purchases or behavioral patterns and use this data to create a more personalized experience. Some examples include suggesting related products or frequently purchased items. These features have the potential to bring the buying experience to life for the customer.


What are the challenges with voice commerce today?

Language limitations

Every human voice is unique, and computers may struggle to understand accents and intonations. Developers must continuously improve language features, to overcome this challenge. Currently, English is the most developed and most accurately recognized language in voice technology. But voice assistants like Siri already support over 17 languages meaning that the developments of new languages are expected to progress quickly.

Making interactions more “human”

Besides the language barriers, voice programs also struggle to make interactions with voice assistants feel more intuitive and natural. Solving this issue could have an impact on consumer trust of voice technology and drive more usage worldwide.

Knowledge gap

There’s a lack of information on the capabilities of voice assistants. Many consumers don’t purchase or use voice assistants because they feel like they have little to no knowledge of what a voice assistant can do, how to use it, or if there are risks involved in doing so.

Lack of trust

Consumers who are using voice commerce often only use it for reordering items they have purchased in the past. Currently, voice assistants are used for purchasing small and quick products, as there is a lack of trust in the technology with regards to handling larger or more complex orders.

Privacy concerns

Regulations around the processing of personal data, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that came into effect in May 2018, are increasing around the world. These lead to more conversations around data protection, and in turn to more consumers becoming aware of the need to protect their online data. Apple’s Siri takes pride in being the most private digital assistant in the world while making use of on-device intelligence to create a personalized voice commerce experience.


What does the future of voice commerce look like?

Voice commerce has the potential to be a game-changer for B2C and B2B e-commerce, once the barriers to adoption are overcome. According to Google, 20% of all searches are already made via voice commands.

Consumers in both B2C and B2B want privacy in their homes and on the internet. If companies want to increase voice commerce adoption, a solution needs to be developed to only keep the information needed to enable purchases and maximize security. It’s the responsibility of both B2C and B2B companies to properly inform their consumers and put their minds at ease when it comes to the security of voice-enabled devices.

For B2B companies, voice commerce is an opportunity to not only improve processes in warehouses and offices but also to stand out among competitors. The B2B companies that are pioneers in adopting new technologies like voice commerce will be able to provide their B2B customers with memorable, simple and innovative online experiences.

Final thoughts

Now that you’re familiar with voice commerce, it’s clear that this technology is set to revolutionize e-commerce. Its convenience and seamless user experience make purchasing effortless with just your voice. As voice assistants become more advanced, businesses need to adapt to stay competitive.

To stay ahead, explore emerging tips and strategies for the future of e-commerce. Discover how voice commerce and other technologies shape online shopping. Don’t miss the chance to unlock your business’s full potential. Read more about top 12 B2B e‑commerce trends in 2023.

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