The role that voice-assisted devices play in local search and marketing — at least for now — has been overstated, and devices like Alexa Echo and Google Home don’t hold nearly as important of a position in the everyday lives of consumers as smartphones and laptops, according to the results of a new survey by the global software firm Episerver.
In surveying more than 4,000 global consumers, Episerver found that although nearly 40% own voice-assisted devices, 60% of those consumers never browse on them, and 66% never make purchases on them.
Episerver found similar results among wearers of smartwatches, like Apple Watch and Fitbit Ionic. Thirty-five percent of consumers own smartwatches, but 66% never browse on their devices and 70% never make purchases.
While consumers are still warming up to new technologies like voice-controlled assistants and smartwatches, Episerver’s survey found that smartphones continue to play a hugely important role in the path to purchase. Twenty-percent of smartphone owners in the United States make purchases from their devices daily, and 57% make purchases multiple times per month.
Episerver’s survey also found that consumers have grown incredibly comfortable handing over their personal information to retailers and brands in exchange for a better shopping experience. Eighty-seven percent of shoppers in the survey said they are “okay with companies knowing more about them,” and a quarter of consumers said they are more likely to purchase from a brand when that brand personalizes the shopping experience.
“This marks a monumental opportunity for brands to collect and wield such data to personalize digital experiences for their customers, which as we found, helps build brand loyalty,” says Ed Kennedy, senior director of commerce at Episerver.
Kennedy sees today’s consumers as being extremely savvy researchers, regularly going online to find and compare pricing, shipping times, payment options, and return windows — and often doing so without making purchases on the spot.
“While this should be common knowledge by now, there are still brands and retailers who miss the forest for the trees — focusing too much on a quick sale and not enough on improving the overall journey that paves the path to purchase,” he says. “The brands that can deliver the content and recommendations consumers need when they need it are the ones consumers will remember when it’s time to make a purchase.”
Despite their reluctance to use voice-controlled devices and smartwatches along the path to purchase, Episerver’s survey still found that more than half of consumers (59%) said they have used or would be interested in using live chat for assistance while shopping online. Forty percent of shoppers have tried or would be interested in trying augmented or virtual reality during the shopping experience.
These findings demonstrate a certain openness among consumers for new shopping experiences, which is something that Kennedy says retailers should be capitalizing on as they grow their digital marketing platforms.
“Shoppers have embraced online shopping and have few qualms about researching and making purchases online. However, the popularity of e-commerce — and easy access to it — means that brands have to push the limits to continue delighting consumers online,” Kennedy says. “If brands fail to embrace this modern understanding of online shopping, they’ll fall by the wayside.”
Looking forward, Kennedy sees a strengthening market for voice-controlled devices and smartwatches, as consumers become more comfortable with the technology. He believes the future of commerce hinges on how quickly brands adopt new technologies and channels adapt to constantly changing consumer expectations.
“The future of commerce will replace clicks and swipes with snaps and soundbites. Visual and voice commerce will transform how intuitively we can shop on various devices and integrate shopping into our daily lives,” he says. “Brands who invest in incorporating technology into the overall experience, and that go the extra mile to make shopping with them more seamless, convenient, and enjoyable, will find shoppers spending more with them over the long run.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.