Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Voice to Cart: The Game Changer for E-commerce in India

We have 628 million smartphones, 450 million Paytm users but only 130 million active users. We have over 2.8 billion UPI transactions, but how many of them are for e-commerce? There are only 88 million e-commerce customers.  Only 4 out of 10 installs will get a customer who buys anything. 

This is because most people in India are not comfortable using e-commerce apps due to their UI complexity. So, if e-commerce is a key channel for sales for any brand, there is a gigantic customer base that is not being addressed today. 

Voice is to this decade, what mobile apps were to the previous decade - the biggest growth explosion lever for e-commerce companies to acquire 400 million new customers in India alone. 

It’s no surprise that many prominent e-commerce players like Amazon, Flipkart, and Jio have started experimenting with it by adding their home-grown in-app voice assistants. Similarly, companies like Big Basket, Udaan, and P&G are working with some cutting-edge startups to add in-app voice assistants to their own apps. So, let’s see what the top use cases are being powered by voice assistants in popular e-commerce apps.

Multilingual Voice Search

Search is the most widely used feature in any e-commerce application, but it also acts as a major drop-off point in a consumer’s purchase path while they discover new items. Here are the most common reasons customers drop off during search –
- Typing  - Typing is painful, especially on a smartphone keyboard; requires English spelling mastery, and typing vernacular words in English is fuzzy in spellings (aalu, aloo).
- English -  People generally think of items in their native language and try to type them out, but the SKUs are usually indexed with the English version of the word.

Typing is a hurdle, especially with non-English languages.
- Spelling Challenges - Spelling out complicated terms is tough.
- Product Discovery - Auto suggestions are great, but they limit the customer to popular items and prevent the discovery of newer or less frequently purchased items.
- Synonyms  -  People might not always know the exact item they want and might use a word with a similar meaning (‘low-fat’ > ‘skim’)
- Filters - It’s natural to apply filters in search, but currently, most apps expect filters to be an explicit UI operation. Customers have to engage in two separate activities to get the result they want (*'blue jeans under Rs 2,000'*)

Voice-powered search eliminates most of these issues and also makes repetitive voice search for even power users much faster - by up to 33 percent - compared to usual touch and type interfaces.

Voice to Cart in a Single Step!

Voice enables people to complete their tasks on apps much faster by letting them speak a single command which otherwise would have been a multi-step process. 

For example: ‘Add 2 kgs of Aashirvaad aata’ (In this case, it’s now possible to identify the actual SKU and the quantity and add it to the cart directly). 

The ability to do this entire action in one command is 3X faster than manually adding each item. Now, imagine building a monthly grocery list of 40 items in a grocery shopping app!

Voice Promotions

Voice promotions are just-in-time voice nudges that contextually inform the shopper about the availability of offers (‘There is an offer for buy 2 get 1 free. Would you like to buy 2 items instead?’), and then follow up with an explicit yes or no question. This, again, very closely mimics the real-world shopping experience, where the person manning the checkout counter has the best influence to push an offer (‘Ma’am, you could buy 3 of these at 20 percent off?’).

Voice Navigation

Consumers coming online for the first time have a bigger difficulty. This complexity creates a lot of cognitive overload on these first-time consumers causing drop-offs and a reduction in conversion. A person trying to find the delivery status or invoice for purchase will have to perform 4-5 actions minimum - whereas a simple voice command like ‘delivery status’ is 3X-4X faster than touch and type!

Voice Navigation allows consumers to be in control and just speak out what their intent is – ‘fruits and vegetables’, ‘track my order’, ‘show my cart’ or ‘what offers do I have on my credit cards?’ The app then can quickly take them to their destination without them having to figure how to get to that screen themselves.

Hands-free Shopping, Building Shopping Lists, Voice Feedback, and More

There are lots of new capabilities that voice shopping enables that are otherwise not possible. The ability to use the app without having to interact with it constantly (hands-free shopping) or the ability to quickly blurt out their shopping list (list to cart) or the ability to collect better quality feedback by allowing customers to share their experiences by just talking to the app. All these make the app a lot easier and faster to use for your customers - irrespective of their comfort with apps.

In-App Voice Commerce Journey is Just Beginning

There are 1,000X more smartphones in the world than there are smart speakers in homes. That automatically makes the APP the king of all channels to engage and entice your customers to shop with retail brands on a consistent basis. So, making apps faster and more accessible to millions of consumers will only help brands grow their customer base and retention rates rapidly.

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