eCommerce transaction revenue via voice assistant devices is expected to grow by over 320% and reach a value of $19.4bn by 2023, according to a recent study from Juniper Research. The growing popularity of voice assistants is driven by their ability to facilitate touch-free human-machine interactions in a natural and intuitive way, similar to the conversations between human beings.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also demonstrated the need for less touch and more voice applications, however, it is estimated that the main growth in voice assistant eCommerce will be driven by combining omnichannel retail strategies such as voice assistants and devices with screens. Voice assistant devices without screens limit the amount of information that can be presented, but by combining the two, retailers can provide more information to the consumer, and improve the efficiency of the transaction process.
The study found that users will generally use voice assistants to initially explore a product, before completing the purchase via a screen. For automakers, who have both integrated screens and voice assistance technology in their vehicles, this presents not only a commerce opportunity but also solves the ongoing safety concern of drivers taking their eyes off the road while travelling to look at and interact with various screens.
Thanks to at-home devices from the likes of Amazon and Google, the modern consumer will be familiar with the idea of an in-car voice assistant. A white paper from Capgemini states that consumers currently use in-car voice assistants mainly for playing music, navigation and making phone calls, with the top reason given by drivers who were asked why they used voice assistants to complete these tasks, being a ‘reduction in effort’. Three years from now, almost 95% of consumers who have access to conversational assistants, are expected to use these to access information in their cars, with voice becoming the preferred medium of interaction.
Since its emergence in 1994, eCommerce has been a steep learning curve for retailers. Requiring more than uploading an existing catalogue, eCommerce was a complete step-change in consumer behaviour. The automotive industry will now need to go through this learning process again as we discover the many opportunities and potential pitfalls of voice-assisted services and purchases can have.
Recently, Parkopedia COO, Hans Puvogel joined ‘The New Age of Voice Commerce’ webinar with Keri Roberts, Brand Evangelist at Readspeaker.ai, as well as panellists Mike Zagorsek, COO of SoundHound Inc., and Elissa Dailey, Director of Strategy at Rain Agency, to discuss the emerging opportunities of voice commerce, and offer insight into this topic on behalf of the automotive industry.
Hans made the point during the webinar, that ‘’Voice technology can solve two key problems that we have in-car. One is driver distraction. While you’re driving, you shouldn’t touch a screen. Voice is the solution for that. The second key problem for automotive is payments. Voice biometrics could be used for two-factor authentication for credit card payments.’’
Voice is key for enabling technology that will improve the experience for the user, in this case for drivers. During the webinar, Dailey suggested Starbucks as an example of a brand that is using the technology well, who are using voice commerce to add value for the consumer by offering a ‘queue-jump’ ordering service via their app. Hans added that the overall success of eCommerce mogul Amazon is due to its ‘customer delight’ philosophy and that this is where automakers were currently going through a learning curve. Could the refocus needed to implement voice eCommerce successfully in our vehicles also be the step change the automotive industry needs to revolutionise customer service and vehicle purchases from behind the wheel?
Zagorsek continued that voice assistants are unique in that they offer an unbroken relationship, allowing customers to make purchases ‘in the moment’ just by using their voice - but the key to obtaining the trust needed for a consumer to feel comfortable in making purchases in this way, would be through a customised environment, both unique to businesses, as well as the use case.
It was unanimously agreed that personalisation is key, something that the automotive industry is yet to fully embrace. The panel also discussed voice commerce promotions and offers, and how these need to be managed carefully in order to avoid being considered ‘a nuisance’. Hans added that only a limited amount of offers can be made before a customer or driver disconnects, therefore, in order for these offers or prompts to be successful, they need to be highly targeted in order to be meaningful and create ongoing value for the driver.
Privacy and the protection of personal data was also raised as a concern, and according to Juniper Research, this will also be a significant barrier to future growth - as it is with all voice assistant technology. Microsoft found that 52% of users have concerns about personal information and data security when using voice assistants. Capgemini advises that by being transparent about data collection and how it will be used, automakers can start to alleviate privacy concerns. Customised car voice recognition systems, such as those used successfully in telephone banking, can also help to build trust in voice authorised payments, and critically within the automotive industry, can enable frictionless purchases from behind the wheel, without having to manage and authorise transactions across multiple devices and keep your full attention on the road.
To encourage users to engage with voice-assisted payments, there is a need for automakers to earn consumer trust by improving and perfecting the most commonly requested functions, before introducing more complex features, as initially, drivers may be discouraged to share their financial information with systems that seem to fail at handling basic tasks. Automakers also need to place a high level of importance on ensuring offers are personalised, and give added value to the consumer at the right time, to prevent disengagement with the service. This can only be delivered with deeply integrated systems that are congruous with wider vehicle sensor data.
As the market leader for in-car parking payments for the last seven years, Parkopedia has recently expanded its transaction services to include additional vehicle-centric services, such as Electric Vehicle charging, tolling and pay-at-the-pump fuelling. Our integrated payment platform offers automakers an open, white-label solution to create a personalised product that represents the entire transactable market for their drivers. Removing major friction factors mentioned above by combining in-car screen and voice assistance technology, and with features such as Single Sign-On (SSO) capability that removes the need to have multiple vendor accounts - these will be vital to a surge in popularity of in-car voice assistant technology.
In order to further benefit the millions of drivers around the world who currently use our services, Parkopedia works with in-car voice assistant technology partners, such as SoundHound and Cerence - with the latter working with Parkopedia and automakers such as Audi to integrate voice biometrics payment authentication systems into the head units of future vehicles, as well as partnering with Parkopedia to manage the entire parking process for drivers to find, reserve and pay for the closest or cheapest parking locations, all via voice.
The vendor landscape for in-car eCommerce is increasingly fragmented, with four main categories: task-specific niche assistants providing narrow capabilities, branded in-house assistants, general-purpose bring your own app platforms such as Amazon and Google, as well as white-label solutions. By building a non-competing ecosystem with wider major service providers, Parkopedia’s white-label solution provides complete capabilities and configurable toolsets to automakers, enabling a seamless and personalised offering that builds trust for users and a platform that eliminates the existing barriers to entry for drivers to use in-car voice assistance technology for purchases in future.
Click here to read the key Q&As from the webinar, or click here to re-watch the webinar in full.
Capgemini White Paper can be found here.
Juniper Research study can be downloaded here.
Adam is responsible for Parkopedia’s global marketing strategy, in addition to leading overall communications and branding.