Every successful retailer in today's retail landscape must adopt new channels into their omni-channel strategy in order to be successful. 2017 saw a massive growth explosion in the voice activated retail channel. Currently over 35.6 million people use voice activated speakers and that number is expected to increase 23.1% in 2018.
Voice activated retail is quickly approaching a critical threshold for new technology adoption. Currently, 13% of all wifi enabled homes have at least one voice activated speaker in the home. This is an important point because the critical threshold for new technology adoption is 15%. At that point, new technology tends to explode and voice activated speakers should hit this point early into 2018.
There are a few major players in the voice activated speaker market that retailers should be aware of. Amazon Echo products, Google Home Products, and now the Apple Homepod. The market remains competitive with new players still entering the competition.
The voice activated market is overwhelming owned by Amazon but Google and other competitors are still making strides at taking some of the Amazon market share. Amazon has the advantage of being first to market in this field and it will take a quite a bit to challenge their established lead.
Voice Activated Retail Sales-
Each of the voice activated brands have their own marketplace for individuals to order goods through. For Amazon, their have their own well established ecommerce marketplace that consumers are very familiar with. Google uses its product listing and Google Express service. It is unclear at this time what Apple's voice activated retail plan is.
Each of these brands also offer their own app environments. These apps can include different skills such as games, emails, and calls but also include specific retailer branded apps. Amazon reported in September of 2017 that they had hired 5000 additional employees to focus on the development of voice enabled apps.
Amazon still has a resounding lead in the app market, boasting over 25,000 skills currently available on their market. Retailers that are interested in this can work with Google, Amazon, and Apple to create apps that will work with Voice Enabled speakers.
Amazon Echo Rundown-
We conducted a little test and found that when you order an item from an Echo device, like a hairbrush, Amazon offers you their "Amazon Choice" product for that category. Next it will offer best sellers and highly rated product categories, but the Amazon choice option is always offered first.
Amazon Choice is an internal designation that Amazon gives certain products. There is no way to request this label, petition for it, or find out if your product is close. We do have some hints about what you need to do in order to be up for an Amazon Choice label.
Something else to keep in mind is that Amazon has been plagued with a fake reviews problem. Some individuals have been leaving very negative reviews on their competitors product listings to pump their product in comparison. Amazon does not monitor this and it is a factor you will want to keep in mind. It is our recommendation that you monitor all your reviews for something that stands out as not genuine.
When we ordered a hair brush from Google Home, we were offered a brush from Walmart, who is a google express partner. Many major retailers have been joining with Google to partner on voice offerings even when they have a smaller market share. Other notable brands that have partnered with Google include Home Depot and Target. In order to have your product available on Google Home it seems you need to have your product listed with Google or be a partner with Google Express
The jury is still out on the Homepod which launches on 02/09/2018. Apple is a really late comer to this market and is at a massive disadvantage. However, success ins't garunteed, Apple has had a few products fall flat in the past years. That said, Apple has a very dedicated fan base and for that reason, we aren't ready to call the Homepod a loss yet. Time will tell but savvy retailers will watch this development closely.
So all signs are pointing to voice activated retail being a major channel in the next 5 years and it is absolutely worth the effort to make sure you put your product in the best position possible to capitalize on this channel. Research indicates that most voice speaker owners have a higher than average income, at least one child, and fall between 35-45 years old. However, adoption rates are really high among the younger age demographics and that is certainly a signal that investments into voice activated retail are a good long term bet.
As with everything ecommerce related, it is worth mentioning that shipping speed, cost, and accuracy play a massive role in the overall success of your retail strategy. It is always worth taking a look at your fulfillment program and making sure that you are running the most optimized shipping program possible. If you have any concerns about your fulfillment program or you are curious how you could benefit from a dependable, worry free fulfillment partner, please reach out to IDS.