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Smart speakers set to drive the future of e-commerce

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Not too long ago, smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home were there just as a nice to have in the corner of the room. They’d be great for playing the odd song when guests were over or proving a conversation point mid-argument. But the importance of voice technology is steadily increasing by the week and brands should listen up.

New research shows that six out of 10 (60%) smart speaker owners have used their device to make a purchase in the past year, highlighting the tech’s importance to the future of e-commerce.

The survey, commissioned by AI and data-driven agency Artefact UK, with 2,000 British adults taking part, also revealed that almost a quarter (22%) of respondents have used the tech to make a purchase in the past week.

Nearly a third (31%) of smart speaker owners have already interacted with brands via their device, according to the report. When asked to identify what they think smart speakers can do, around half (47%) of people suggested using them for shopping or buying takeaways, 39% said they were ideal for playing games or quizzes and 28% suggested that you could use them for booking travel.

 

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The theory is for the most part backed up by how smart speaker owners are currently engaging with brands through their devices. The companies that people have interacted with are dominated by technology brands (especially Amazon), supermarkets, such as Sainsbury's and takeaway delivery services including Domino’s. 

However, to temper the results almost half (45%) of smart speaker owners share a nagging doubt that they aren’t getting the most out of their device. The most common use scenarios are to listen to music, books or podcasts (57%) and almost half (47%) use voice for basic search, such as weather forecasts or recipes. More than a third (38%) say they use their smart speaker as an alarm clock.

“Voice offers a simple and spontaneous path to purchase that reflects how people behave naturally. 40% of our sample already owns one or more of these devices so the channel is nearing critical mass. Both Google and Amazon are offering aggressive discounts on their smart speakers and ownership grew by 79% last year alone,” said Sarah De Martin, managing director at Artefact.

“There seems to be a significant disconnect in how people are using their smart speakers, as compared to what they ‘think’ they should be able to do with them. As the number of households owning smart speakers grows there is a significant opportunity for brands that can rectify this. This lies in both optimising search for voice and through branded skills that play to what people actually want from their devices.”

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