Today’s consumer is more connected than ever, thanks to the increasing prevalence of mobile devices, voice services, and virtual and augmented reality – and their connectivity is changing the way they shop. Making purchases no longer takes the same intention or the same amount of time – it can happen in an instant, with a simple click or voice command.

In this future of connected commerce, the merchants who will have the competitive advantage are the ones who figure out how to meet their consumers when and where they are, delivering what they want when they want it. In April, 2019, Amazon Pay conducted a 25-minute double-blind survey among 5,689 consumers in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain to explore how businesses can better meet the expectations of connected customers. Here are some insights about the art of doing business in the next era of commerce.

Voices are getting louder

Cloud-based voice services are going to be a crucial part of the future of commerce, beyond ecommerce, mcommerce, and brick-and-mortar stores. Voice may be a nascent technology, but the experience of it takes customers back to a simpler time, when all that was needed to make a purchase was asking for it. However, there’s one key difference: voice services are getting smarter at anticipating customers’ needs.

Consumers find voice to be simple yet novel, with 40% of respondents in the EU indicating that they’re likely to use the channel in at least some part of their shopping journey in the next three years. This adoption rate proves that businesses should embrace it as part of their solutions to address the next level of consumer expectation.

Why are consumers adopting voice?

Businesses should keep in mind that consumers are drawn to voice services, and are adopting it so quickly, primarily because of ease-of-use and speed: forty-three percent of survey respondents in the EU said that they would try voice for the ease of it, and 39% said they would use it because it was a faster way to shop.

Voice also allows for a certain spontaneity and immediacy of the shopping experience. More than one in five consumers likes the in-the-moment aspect of voice, which allows them to move quickly from the ‘desire’ and ‘think’ phase to the ‘purchase’ phase. As businesses consider voice strategies, they should focus on context, and tie certain shopping experiences to specific events in the life of a consumer. These life events could act as triggers for customers to pursue shopping. For example, asking a consumer if they want to order a gift before the holidays is a contextual trigger, which is more likely to result in a consumer purchasing a product through a voice service.

Voice is more than just about tracking orders

Consumer interest in voice isn’t limited to the point of purchase. Because of the intuitive, fast interactions that voice services offer, connected consumers are using, or planning to use, the channel for a wide swathe of activities across the shopping journey.

The top four activities that consumers in the EU are likely to use voice for in the next three years include searching for products, comparing prices, checking delivery status, and making a shopping list. All four of these activities are of comparable or equal importance for nearly 39% of the survey’s EU respondents. Businesses that plan to incorporate voice services into their strategy should aim to develop a voice skill that can incorporate all these various phases of the shopping journey, paying specific attention to these particular actions.

Prepare for the connected consumer

With more consumers adopting voice services, and doing so quickly, businesses should take every measure to make sure that they’re prepared for the connected consumer, and that means ensuring future customers’ trust with state-of-the-art data security and a strong privacy policy. Eighty-four percent of consumers in the EU say that trust and the security of personal information is the most important attribute when they shop in any channel, and eight out of 10 say they will switch from a brand if they don’t feel that they’re data is safe. In other words, businesses that don’t take data security seriously have a lot to lose.

The best way businesses can boost their customers’ confidence is to ask for consent to use personal information and to guarantee that they won’t share customer information without permission. Other important measures to take include a strong privacy policy, transparency about how consumer information is being used, and permitting consumers to choose the information that is captured and shared.

Offer a trusted experience across all channels

Consumers are signalling an embrace of multichannel experiences. In the next three years, 36% of consumers in the EU are likely to be involved in a shopping journey that spans multiple channels – and 36% are currently comfortable starting their journey in one channel and ending it in another.

As businesses prepare to offer a connected commerce experience to their consumers, it’s essential that they take adequate steps to maintain and build trust across all channels. One way to ensure a seamless experience across channels is to use digital payment services. In the next three years, 65% of consumers in the EU are likely to use digital payment services for online purchases, and when it comes to voice services 41% are more comfortable using digital payment services over credit cards. By offering a simple, seamless checkout through trusted third-party payment solutions, such as Amazon Pay with Alexa, merchants can circumvent the trust gap that comes with less familiar websites.

If you want to see more of the insights from the Amazon Pay survey, and learn more about the next era of commerce, click here

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