Digital Assistants Are Changing the Way We Buy and Sell

Cassandra Shaffer

April 18, 2019

“Alexa, what dog food should I buy for Brutus?”

Whether it’s getting kibble recommendations, or reordering your favorite shampoo, digital assistants are changing the online retail game. A successful brand excels at providing product suggestions when a customer needs it most and services like the Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant have opened up a world opportunity to meet your customers’ needs. And if you’re an eCommerce professional, you need to be paying attention.

What is a voice assistant?

Built using machine learning technology, a voice assistant is a digital concierge that can answer questions and perform tasks for the owner. Alerted by voice commands, a voice assistant can help users request an Uber, set timers, or even order a product. By reducing the friction between daily life and devices, digital assistants have grown in popularity - one in six people in the United States now own an activated voice assistant.

With increased adoption in households or on the go, digital assistants are the next logical step in human efficiency, media consumption, and online shopping. This is especially significant for brands. In just five years, 87 percent of consumers will expect to be able to reach their favorite brands and 72 percent of consumers will expect to purchase from their favorite brands with the help of a voice assistant, according to Bing Ads.

Digital Assistant

What are voice assistant’s shopping capabilities in reference to retail and eCommerce?

Digital assistants are already making shopping easier for consumers. The two most popular assistants, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, allow users to buy their favorite products and track those orders through Alexa or Google Assistant enabled devices.

Screen Shot 2018-11-12 at 2.24.24 PM

Shopping with Google Assistant

Buying products from stores like Walmart, Costco, and Target is easier than ever when a consumer uses Google’s personal shopping service, Google Express. Once payment information and a shipping address have been entered, users can activate Google’s shopping assistant by saying something as simple as “Ok Google, I need to order more shampoo.” Typical of Google’s user experience, the more a user shops, the personalized their product recommendations will be. Most merchants now offer free delivery on orders over $35.00.

##

Shopping with Amazon Alexa

Alexa Voice Shopping is an Amazon service that allows users to order anything they need through Amazon. By simply telling an Alexa-enabled device what you want to buy, the shopping assistant will use a consumer’s purchase history to make recommendations.

A feature unique to Amazon’s shopping assistant is the ability to search deals. By saying, "Alexa, what are your deals?" users get access to exclusive deals through Alexa.

Although only 2% of people with Amazon-Alexa enabled devices made a purchase via voice in 2018, brands will see that figure grow as user experience and accessibility improves.

What does the future of voice assist look like for retail and eCommerce?

Smart home = smart shopping

The future is bright for online retail and voice-enabled shopping assistants, largely due to appliance brands like Whirlpool and LG creating a more connected smart-home ecosystem. Washing machines are now being created with built-in Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa integrations, which means consumers will no longer need to pull out their phone to order more detergent. At CES 2017, LG introduced an Alexa-enabled smart-fridge that suggests recipes that include the spinach that is expiring soon. And once it’s gone, will prompt you to order more.

Away from home

Voice assistants are appearing everywhere, not just at home. In the workplace, Amazon’s Alexa for Business can assist with everyday tasks at the office, such as notifying IT of an issue, ordering more office supplies, or managing your calendar. Marriott hotels will soon have Alexa-enabled rooms, letting guests do all sorts of things from closing the blinds to ordering pizza.

 

Using voice assistant

User experience and adoption

As the design for digital assistants evolve and improve, more users are likely to embrace voice-assisted shopping. All revolutionary technology is met with skepticism. Online shopping was a new, uncomfortable concept for consumers when it was first introduced in 1994, and now 96 percent of Americans shop online. The first popular voice assistant - Siri - was only introduced in 2010. Now, nearly half of Americans use a voice assistant on their smartphone. Voice assistants and online retail can now collide harmoniously as companies like Amazon and Google continue to improve their services.

How will voice impact my eCommerce business?

Now that we’ve established that voice is a big part of the future, how will it impact your business?

Text search will transition to voice

The use of voice-enabled devices has increased dramatically over the last few years, and by 2020, it is predicted that 50 percent of all searches will be voice-based. Humanizing the descriptions of product features, FAQs, and common concerns will help voice-assisted product research will flow smoothly. This will benefit brands who adopt a natural-sounding brand voice and include conversational language in their content and product pages.  

Shopping will still be visual

For higher-dollar items like electronics, clothing, and furniture, customers will continue to research products through visual mediums. Voice-enabled smart TVs and integrated video content will play a key role in attracting customers to buy more expensive items from their living room.

The rise of shopping lists

Basic digital shopping lists now live in every voice-enabled device, and it would be safe to anticipate that shopping lists will become a desirable space for advertisers. Knowing the user already plans to buy an item will allow advertisers to offer deals specific to that shopper.

Brands are already delighting and assisting customers through Alexa Skills

There are now over 30,000 “Skills” (voice-based apps) on the Amazon market. A great example of how brands engage customers is the Tide – Stain Remover skill. Consumers can use Alexa to ask Tide how to remove thousands of different stains, followed by a step-by-step guide on how (and naturally, a Tide product recommendation).

By gathering and understanding insights on customer experience, brands can find a way to bring even more utility and convenience to the voice-enabled shopping experience.

How can I prepare for the collision of voice and eCommerce?

With a handful of sound predictions and still many unknowns, brands can start preparing based on what is already working in the voice-enabled search ecosystem.

Adopt a conversational keyword strategy

The only constant in the digital space is change. Since Google is always updating its search algorithm to show users the most relevant results, brands that do business online need to continuously refresh keyword strategies to meet the demands of new search trends, in this case voice-enabled search.

Updating search phrases to be more conversational is a good place to start. For example, brands could have more success using search phrases like “What is the best brand of coffee” versus “best coffee brand”.

Make sure your website HTTPS secured

HTTPS (the “S” stands for secured) is primarily used to product online transactions like banking and online shopping forms. 70.4 percent of voice search results maintain a secured URL, which is 20 percent more than desktop results. If you’re in the online retail space, making sure your website is HTTPS secured will make it that much easier for voice-enabled shoppers to find your website.

Adapt content pages

As your brand creates and refines its product and content pages, consider how prospective customers will want their questions answered. An excellent way to start creating conversational content is through your Frequently Asked Questions page. Anticipating your customers’ questions ahead of time will help with SEO rankings and make things easier in the long run for your company’s customer service team.

Win the feature snippet space

Although Google still won’t share how to compete for what many call “position zero”, there are methods that SEO experts agree will help your chances. Maintaining SEO best practices and having a clear and informative FAQ webpage are two methods that can help you occupy the coveted feature snippet on Google.

Keep and improve on your domain authority

Domain authority is the rating that Google uses to sort which websites rank at the top of search results. How your page ranks on search engines will determine voice-enabled shoppers to find your products.

How to improve your website’s domain authority:

- Speed up loading time for web pages

- Create shareable, social media-friendly content

- Polish page SEO and readability

- Build your outbound and inbound links

- Fix 404 errors or broken links

Conclusion

It’s an exciting era to be in eCommerce, and the brands that prepare well and adapt quickly to changes will benefit from the rising popularity of voice-assisted shopping. With consumers already embracing voice assistants, voice will be a key ingredient for the future of online shopping.

Interested in learning about developing an eCommerce strategy to include voice assist? Fill out the form below to get more information.

Explore Our Ecommerce Resource Library

Find relevant content to accelerate your ecommerce business. Stay on top of industry trends and best practices.

Sept 27, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 27th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon drives renewable energy push with 71 new projects Amazon is planning to add 2.7 gigawatts of clean energy capacity through a couple of new projects as the company attempts to use 100% renewable energy by 2025. The ecommerce business will soon have a total of 329 renewable energy projects, generating 50,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy, which is equivalent to powering 4.6 million US homes every year. [Read more on Reuters](https://www.reuters.com/business/sustainable-business/amazon-drives-renewable-energy-push-with-71-new-projects-2022-09-21/) Amazon launches Prime Early Access Sale Amazon is launching a new 2-day shopping event for its Prime members only, beginning on the 11th of October. Across 15 countries, Prime customers will have access to the shopping event, with thousands of deals on offer globall, ranging from fashion to electronics to essentials. The event has the purpose of giving Prime users the chance to spread the cost of items over the winter months, 6 weeks ahead of Black Friday. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/26/prime-early-access-sale/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopify unveils new localisation tool Shopify is launching a new localisation tool, called Translate & Adapt, which works with Shopify Markets to offer localisation for sellers who are looking to expand into new markets. The tool translates a user’s online store into different languages, including product pages and information pages. Merchants are also able to create different shipping terms for each market using the new tool, which allows international expansion and offers a more localised consumer experience, unveiling new potential. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/shopify-launches-new-localisation-tool/) Etsy is set to invest hundreds of millions into its marketing platform Etsy CEO claims that the company is on route to spend more than $570 million USD on marketing this year. Even during a time of macroeconomic pressure, inflation and rising interest rates, the company is preparing itself and its sellers for the upcoming holiday season and is focused on retaining interest from buyers. [Read more on Yahoo News](https://uk.news.yahoo.com/etsy-600-million-on-marketing-ceo-154054219.html) --- Other Ecommerce News --- Meta looks to cut costs by 10% in the coming months Meta employees are facing job redundancies as the company plans to cut its costs by 10% over the next few months. Meta reported a 22% YoY increase in costs and expenses, totalling over $20 billion USD. The cuts are expected to come in the form of job redundancies as a result of department reorganisations rather than formal layoffs. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/22/meta-to-slash-costs-by-10-over-coming-months/) DHL teams up with Quadient to offer smart locker deliveries in the UK DHL and tech company, Quadient, have partnered to offer smart lockers parcel pick-up throughout the UK. The new contactless, secure locker stations will give recipients more choice and flexibility to receive their parcels at a time and location best suited to them. The partnership plans to install 500 locker stations across the country by the end of 2022. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/21/dhl-partners-with-quadient-to-offer-smart-locker-delivery/) The online fashion market is set to be worth nearly $170 billion USD in 2025 The European online fashion retail market is set to grow 50% by 2025, with an online turnover of $170 billion USD, which is 33% of the retail branch’s total. Cross-border marketplaces prove to be the largest drivers of this growth, with online websites and apps like Vinted largely pushing the market’s online growth. Zalando recently became the largest cross-border fashion retailer/marketplace, responsible for 11.7% of the online market’s share. [Read more on Ecommerce News](https://ecommercenews.eu/online-fashion-market-worth-e175-billion-in-2025/)
Sept 20, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 20th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon to raise pay and add extra work benefits for delivery drivers Following the rise in fuel prices and protests by Amazon workers, the ecommerce giant is raising its delivery drivers’ pay and adding more work benefits. Amazon has mentioned that it will be investing $450 million into rate increases along with an education program and a Delivery Service Partners program. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/14/amazon-to-raise-delivery-drivers-pay-and-add-more-work-benefits/) Amazon announces it will give away shipping software to merchants at no cost Amazon has recently announced that it will be giving ecommerce merchants free software to manage shopper orders on and off its platform as it extends its reach. The ecommerce giant will be ending monthly costs for sellers using Veeqo, a shipping software it recently acquired and instead offer to them a new, free shipping software. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/16/amazon-to-give-away-shipping-software-to-merchants/) --- Other Marketplace News --- Walmart unveils new virtual fitting rooms In an effort to drive clothing sales, Walmart has launched virtual fitting rooms while competitors reduce spending amid the cost of living crisis. The virtual try-on tool can be used by Walmart customers to virtually measure the clothing items and see how the products would look on them. Shoppers will now be able to see how over 270,000 clothing items on Walmart’s ecommerce site would look on their bodies. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/15/walmart-launches-virtual-fitting-rooms-to-drive-clothing-sales/?utmsource=Retail+Gazette+Subscribers&utmcampaign=2da7f0f8f8-EMAILCAMPAIGN202209150742&utmmedium=email&utmterm=0d23e2768b6-2da7f0f8f8-61040615) THG slashes sales and profit expectations The Hut Group has slashed its forecasts for 2022 as rising interest rates, inflation and energy costs take a toll on consumers. Previously, THG estimated its sales growth to be between 22-25% but after a recent evaluation, has lowered this prediction to between 10-15%. Initial predictions did not take into account the negative effects of ceasing sales in Russia and Ukraine along with the impact that the cost-of-living has had on consumer spending. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/15/thg-slashes-forecast-as-cost-of-living-crisis-hits-consumers-wallets/) --- Other Ecommerce News --- DHL and Post Office team up to provide click and collect services Through a partnership between delivery company, DHL and Post Office, a new click and collect service is to be tested at Post Offices before rolling out to over 1000 branches across the UK. Online shoppers will now have the option of choosing their local Post Office as a collection point, and DHL will fulfil the delivery aspect, opening up networks for both parties. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/14/post-office-partners-with-dhl-express-to-provide-click-and-collect-services/) US consumer watchdog plans to further regulate the BNPL sector The US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has raised concerns regarding the collection of consumer data and the fast-growing nature of the BNPL sector, which includes companies such as Affirm and Klarna. The CFPB is worried that these companies could be negatively impacting consumers’ financial health and aims to put better regulations in place to ensure consumers are safe and empowered. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/16/us-consumer-watchdog-to-start-regulating-bnpl-sector/) Japanese ecommerce market estimated to grow by 6.9% in 2022 The ecommerce market in Japan, largely dominated by domestic online retailers including Reakuten and Mercari, is set to reach $194.3 billion USD in 2022, after seeing an annual compound growth rate of 5.2% between 2018 and 2021. This makes Japan the fourth leading ecommerce market globally, following China, the US, and the UK. [Read more on Charged Retail](https://www.chargedretail.co.uk/2022/09/13/japan-ecommerce-market-to-grow-by-6-9-in-2022/) Ecommerce brands are spending more on TikTok ads TikTok may soon be surpassing Facebook and Google as the most lucrative advertising channel, with ecommerce brands spending 60% more on TikTok ads in Q2. Facebook is still ahead as the top choice for ecommerce advertisers but only grew by 5.6% from Q1, while Google grew 20.5% in Q2, and Snap declined 10.8% in Q2. [Read more on SearchEngineLand](https://searchengineland.com/ecommerce-brands-spent-60-more-on-tiktok-ads-in-q2-387876)
Sept 20, 2022

4 Ecommerce Marketplace Consultant Must-Haves

Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces. 

Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.

So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.

Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products. 

What is an Ecommerce Consultant?

An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.

An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.

Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.

1. Brand Obsession/Specialization/Passion

At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services. 

2. Proven Results

It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.

3. Wide Range of Marketplace Expertise

It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.

4. Network of Resources

The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.

Achieve Your Ecommerce Goals With Pattern

Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces. 

With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.

Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.