As connectivity has become more pervasive and diversified than ever before, British businesses witness a shift in shopping habits of a new generation of consumers, now accustomed to buying items instantly, with a swipe, click or a voice command. We spoke with Alexandra Ebling, Head of Sales at Amazon Pay, about the future of commerce, the role of voice technology and how she envisions it evolving.

How important is voice to the future of commerce?

We believe voice services represent the next era of commerce – this next-generation commerce channel takes consumers back to a simpler time, when all they had to do was ask for the products and services they needed. No typing or swiping, just good old-fashioned conversation, with one significant difference: voice services are becoming smarter by the day. Consumers find the experience to be simple yet novel. In a recent study that Amazon Pay commissioned1, 44% of consumers indicated that they are likely to use voice services in at least some part of their shopping journey in the next three years. This adoption rate I find to be staggering, for a still nascent technology. It proves that businesses should not just consider voice, but embrace it to meet the needs of consumer expectation.

How can businesses prepare for the future of shopping in a connected world?

Consumers want multi-channel experiences within the shopping journey, we know that from our research: 42% of shoppers stated that they are likely to be involved in a journey that spans multiple channels in the next three years. Today, 39% say that they are quite comfortable with starting their journey in one channel and ending it in another. I believe that businesses owe it to their customers to provide an effortless commerce experience. They need to recognise this new behaviour and help shoppers continue their journey from wherever they left off. The only way to do this is by considering voice not in isolation, but as an integral part of commerce strategy.

What role does voice play in commerce experience today?

One in five consumers say that they will buy more through voice in the next three years. We are quick to assume that whenever a new technology gains traction, it will replace an old one. However, the commerce space has proved that is not always the case. Since the introduction of digital technologies, consumers have incrementally adopted channels such as ecommerce and m-commerce to complement (but not replace) their experience at stores.

How are customers using voice in their commerce experience today?

What we see is that consumers who are willing to use voice in some part of their shopping journey do not differentiate by product or service category. Instead, they are willing to try voice across all industries. In the service category, we see that the top use cases are for online food ordering, entertainment streaming and travel booking.

What is one of the most important attributes to the connected consumer?

Consider scenarios where customers prefer to use voice to get something done because they are in the middle of an activity, such as cooking or driving, and cannot use their phone or laptop. One in three consumers tell us that today they are willing to purchase products using voice services, but that they also expect this channel to evolve to a point where they trust it enough to complete a voice based transaction for other financial activities, such paying bills (26%), banking (26%), sending and receiving money from individuals (22%), and donating to charities (19%). This is the time to prepare for the future and device a marketing strategy that will put your business at an advantage.


1All customer insights on voice and connected commerce included in this article are based on a 25-minute double blind online survey that Amazon Pay conducted in April 2019, among 10,297 consumers in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and India.