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Study: Consumers not completely sold on voice-assisted shopping

Voice-assisted shopping still has a ways to go when it comes to being a primary source for online searches and purchases.

A majority of Americans (70%) have not yet used voice search or voice assistants to shop, and well over half don’t trust the current providers to get it right, according to new data from RichRelevance.

Commerce search remains very important to consumers when shopping online, but retailers still struggle to provide an exceptional search experience across devices and touch-points. While shoppers are interested in innovations such as personalized and image search, voice-assisted shopping is still far from mainstream.

Among consumers who use voice search to shop, Google Assistant leads Amazon Alexa (14% vs. 9%). Currently, consumers are equally split between Google (13%) and Amazon (12%) when asked who will eventually get the right formula for voice-assisted shopping. However, 63% don’t think any of the current leaders (Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft) will ultimately pull ahead and “get it right,” the study said.

Young shoppers (ages 18 - 29) are more likely to have used voice search than other generations (43% vs. 30%) overall. However, Amazon is less likely to be used by younger shoppers. Rather, this demographic reported using Apple Siri (20%) and Google Assistant (17%) to shop. Amazon is a distant third at 11%.

This group is also banking on Google and Apple having the best chance of eventually getting voice shopping right (18% and 15%, respectively), compared to 13% who are betting on Amazon.

With low adoption of voice search for shopping, retailers will experience large gains by providing more relevant, personalized search experience across all devices. Nearly nine in 10 Americans (86%) report that the search box is extremely important or important when shopping on a retailer’s web or mobile site. Meanwhile, 80% of respondents always or often use site search while shopping, and most respondents (72%) are likely to leave a retail site that doesn’t provide good search results, let alone start elsewhere the next time they need something.

Nearly one third of U.S. shoppers (32%) are also generally unsatisfied with the search results they receive on a mobile device. Meanwhile, three in 10 said they get worse search results when shopping on their mobile device than laptop or desktop.

Consumers cite “irrelevant product results” (28%) as the top frustration with site search. This is followed by “cannot find the product I’m searching for” (24%), and “search function doesn’t recognize the words I use” (18%).

More than one in four (28%) would like to see search results personalized to them based on their previous shopping behavior. And over half (52%) would like a retailer to show similar or complementary products when they snap a picture of an item they like.

“Search is an essential part of the commerce experience,” said Mike Ni, chief marketing officer of RichRelevance.

“Sessions using search account for 45% of e-commerce revenue, yet our study indicates that many companies still under-deliver when it comes to relevance and accuracy, particularly on mobile,” he added. “While conversational commerce has risen to the top of retail buzz, voice search still in its infancy for shopping. With many retailers looking to go beyond last-generation keyword based search, brands and retailers would be best served by focusing on personalization and image search while positioning themselves to win with any developments in voice-based search.”
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