With Amazon's Echo Dot ranking as the "best-selling product from any manufacturer in any category across Amazon globally" during Prime Day 2017 and Google Home pairing up with Wal-Mart and The Home Depot, the era of AI-assisted selling officially had its breakthrough during the first half of 2017. Additionally, according to a recent Gartner study, sales of voice-activated speakers with artificial intelligence capabilities will reach $3.52 billion by 2021, signaling that adoption of voice-enabled speakers will only continue over the next few years. Though e-commerce continues to gain ground on in-store purchasing, we are collectively a group of consumers who often use our voice throughout our purchasing journeys. Whether it is asking for a different size or color, checking if our product is in stock or simply expressing how we want to pay, we are used to these interactions. While voice feels natural in a store environment, e-commerce has been a domain of scrolling, typing, tapping and swiping, and it is only recently that technology giants like Google and Amazon have capitalized on our natural instinct to use voice, to make searching and shopping even more instant and frictionless.
By 2020, approximately 20.4 billion devices are estimated to be connected to the internet. These IoT devices are getting smarter, connecting to intelligent applications, such as Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri, and helping consumers make transactions and complete tasks. However, they are also sparking conversational AI, and it stands to change customer service. Conversational AI consists of an advanced technology that uses natural language processing (NLP) so that computers can comprehend human language. Conversational AI includes a variety of technologies, such as chatbots, advanced notifications and personal assistants.
Nutella-maker Ferrero is trying out voice commerce. The advertiser is one of the first in the U.S. to use the "send me a sample" application, which delivers a free sample-sized jar of its Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread to people who have it installed in either their Amazon or Google voice assistants. Whenever someone repeats the "send a sample" phrase followed by the name of the brand, an order is made by the app, which pulls delivery information either from the Amazon or Google account linked to the voice assistant. Diageo used the app in the U.K., last year, and whereas Diageo was experimenting with calls to action and aspects of sonic branding, Nutella wants to use the intel to gauge whether voice could be the commerce driver it anticipates. Should enough deliveries come via the app -- Diageo's trial had more than 6,000 requests in its first week -- then Nutella will explore other options, said Ferrero's head of e-commerce in the U.S. Rachel Tetreault, who said voice search could be something it looks into later this year.
There are no holiday songs about smartphones or voice assistants -- at least, not yet. But the world of commerce is rapidly changing, and at no time is this more apparent than during the holiday shopping season. Eighty-seven percent of shoppers now begin their hunt in digital channels -- up from 71 percent in 2017. This is fueled by the explosive growth of smartphones. IDC projects that by 2022 the overall smartphone market will reach 1.646 billion units.
There is no way to spell "retail" without AI. The power of artificial intelligence (AI) to transform the consumer journey dominated the conversation at Shoptalk this week. In its second year, Shoptalk brought together 5,000-plus players across the full ecosystem to better understand the continuous evolution of how consumers discover, browse and buy in the digital era. AI, which refers to technologies capable of performing tasks normally requiring human intelligence, goes back centuries. The idea of cognitive computing gained steam in the 1940s when Alan Turing suggested that a machine could simulate any conceivable act of mathematical deduction.