Mobile Shoppers Turning To Virtual Voice Assistants

Mobile commerce is about to get more vocal.

As in buying things by issuing voice commands.

Within three years, 20% of all user interactions with smartphones will take place via virtual personal assistants, according to a new Gartner forecast.

Voice assistants, such as Apple Siri and Google Now, today fulfill simple tasks, such as setting an alarm or retrieving Internet information, but in the near future these systems will be able to deliver more complex tasks, like completing a transaction based on past, present and predicted context.

The report notes that Facebook Messenger already allows consumers to interact with businesses to make purchases, chat with customer service and order Uber cars.

The study, comprising a survey of 3,000 consumers in the U.S., U.K. and China, found that almost half (42%) of consumers in the U.S. and almost a third (32%) of those in the U.K. used voice assistants within the last three months. More than a third (37%) on average used a voice assistant one or more times a day.

It will be interesting to see what the state of this around this time next year, since smartphones are taking more of the center stage around holiday shopping.

For example, mobile devices accounted for more than $24 billion in holiday sales during a month and a half before Christmas, according to Adobe Digital Insights. Of mobile transactions, smartphones comprised 68% of the sales and mobile devices accounted for almost a third (31%) of online retail sales.

By adding options including on-site buy buttons, single-click checkout, financing services and unified offline-to-online commerce experiences, various brands are beginning to convert desktop shoppers to mobile, according to a Business Insider holiday shopping report.

As further evidence of the shift to digital purchasing, the National Retail Federation said that 44% of Black Friday sales this year took place online.

As more consumers add voice commerce to what they already do with their smartphones, the potential is there for an increase in mobile payments, at least the type done remotely and not at a store.

For example, location-based mobile payments will reach $92 billion within three years, according to Javelin Research. However, in-app and in-browser purchases are set to jump to $319 billion, more than triple those on location.

As more consumers become comfortable with making online purchases via smartphone, the behavior is likely to translate to new expectations to pay that way when at in-store checkout.

Meanwhile, more consumers will turning to virtual mobile assistants to help them shop. That could usher in a new form of personal, mobile shopping, with a shopping assistant that lives exclusively in the digital world.



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