Juniper projects voice assistants will play a bigger role in shopping

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Customers are increasingly making purchases through voice assistants — to the tune of $19.4 billion by 2023, according to projections. A new study from Juniper Research finds that ecommerce transactions will increase from $4.6 billion this year as voice assistant devices with screens improve the efficiency of the checkout process.

“[G]rowing the size and accessibility of the content domain libraries will be critical to increasing the number of transactions processed by voice assistant services. In turn, this will increase the value proposition of voice commerce to third-party retailers and generate new revenue streams for voice assistant platforms,” the report reads.

Juniper expects that the global install base of smart speakers will rise by over 50% between 2021 and 2023. Similarly, Statista expects global smart speaker revenue will see an uptick, reaching $35.5 billion by 2025. While smartphone-based assistants will remain dominant in terms of usage, the rising number of standalone smart speakers means the potential for commerce will grow — supporting the adoption of new monetization strategies.

In 2020, 23 million consumers used voice assistants to make purchases, according to a survey by the publication PYMNTS and Visa. That was a 45% increase from 2018 and an 8% gain since 2019.

The pandemic and the desire for contactless shopping options has fueled a rise in ecommerce and accelerated the shift toward omnichannel retail experiences. According to Opus Research, retailers are increasingly installing voice-enabled kiosks and contact centers. And 73% of retail respondents to the survey considered search via voice to be a top benefit of voice assistants.

According to a study by Gartner, brands that redesign their websites to support voice search stand to increase their digital commerce revenue by 30%. Forty-one percent of consumers would prefer a voice assistant over a website or app while shopping online, Capgemini reports. And the Opus study found that online shoppers who used voice spend $136 more on average than those who shop solely online.

Barriers to adoption

Some experts disagree with the findings in the Juniper report, disputing the notion that voice will become a major ecommerce revenue stream. A recent eMarketer study, for example, found that more than half of U.S. adults have never shopped for goods via voice and have no interest in trying voice shopping.

Even the Juniper report encourages leaders in the voice assistant space — particularly Amazon, Apple, and Google — to open up their ecommerce services to third-party retailers, in addition to leveraging their own ecosystems. A key hurdle to attracting third-party retailers is the absence of a screen in many smart speakers, according to Juniper, which limits the contextual information that can be presented to users.

The report also recommends implementing omnichannel retail strategies, where users’ interactions are managed across multiple channels, to enable retailers to display detailed info on a product. “Users will generally use voice assistants to initially explore a product, before completing the purchase via a device with a screen,” Meike Escherich, one of the report’s coauthors, said in a statement. “Voice assistant platforms must ensure that the user experience is so seamless that transactions are carried out via these platforms, rather than requiring additional devices.”


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