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Retail Trends

How voice tech is shaping shopper behavior

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Voice-assisted technology is “at the tip of the iceberg right now,” said Eric Bisceglia, vice president of go-to-market at Voysis. At NRF’s Shop.org conference in Las Vegas, Bisceglia joined a panel with Shrenik Sadalgi, director of next gen experiences at Wayfair, and Mark Taylor, chief experience officer at Capgemini, to discuss voice tech today and how it’s likely to shape the consumer behavior of tomorrow.

Voice technology presents great opportunities for retailers if developed authentically. When Taylor’s team asked consumers about voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google Home, they found the vast majority of consumers loved them. Voice is the “humanization of the digital experience,” he said. Brands can use voice to develop customer intimacy by scaling human connections and learning what customers think and feel. Empathy is what makes interactions authentic.

"Voice (technology) is the humanization of the digital experience."
Mark Taylor
Capgemini

But when it comes to implementing voice technology, “Don’t do it for the sake of technology,” Sadalgi said. Retailers that apply voice tech well use it as an extension to interfaces and to provide a solution to customer needs. For example, customers can order Domino’s Pizza delivery through an in-home voice assistant — this is a natural extension of ordering over the phone.

The reality is, voice tech is everywhere. Finding the right moment to apply a voice-backed solution is the trick, and for Taylor, it’s in the store. So far, consumers use voice mostly for commands like asking for the weather forecast or controlling other smart home devices. But as people get used to using voice assistants, they’re increasingly asking more complex questions.

The future looks promising for voice tech — Bisceglia expects voice assistants to develop full dialogues and mimic human conversation patterns, while Sadalgi urged retailers to consider the intention behind voice commands. If context can be built into voice with the help of machine learning, “that’s a winner,” he said. Taylor sees the future of voice assistants developing in two ways: Tailoring the technology so retailers can build relationships with customers and shaping the tech to make voice search easier.


For more thoughts from retail experts including leaders in voice, artificial intelligence, blockchain and more, visit the official Shop.org recap.

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