Voice to Cart | Powering your eCommerce app with Voice
The last month was an exciting time in the Indian e-commerce ecosystem. Two years after their acquisition of Liv.ai, one of the earliest voice players in India, Flipkart launched their multi-lingual Voice Assistant (in English and Hindi) in their app, which enables its users to now talk to their app to search and place an order.
Amazon had also recently rolled out their Alexa integration into the Amazon app. It was available in the US for a while, but earlier this year they rolled it out to India too.
Meanwhile, yours truly partnered with Bigbasket in their experiments with Voice.
BigBasket which had earlier added the basic Google Voice Search to their search experience, but realised its limitation (more about that separately) and rolled out a public experiment with Slang’s e-commerce Voice Assistant. We are looking forward to sharing some details of this experiment soon. Meanwhile here are key ways in which e-Commerce players are powering their user online shopping journey with Voice.
Multi-lingual Voice Search with Natural Filters
Search is key for any e-Commerce application. But it also acts as a serious drop-off point in the journey of a user while they discover new items. Here are the most common reasons users drop off during search —
- Keyboard challenge — typing is painful, especially on a small mobile keyboard.
- Transliteration challenges — people generally think of items in their language and try to type them out, but the SKU’s are all usually indexed with the English version of the word.
- Spelling challenges — typing out complicated names is a challenge.
- Product discovery — auto suggestions are great, but they limit users to popular items and prevent the discovery of newer items.
- Synonyms — people might not always know the exact item they want and might use a word with similar meaning (“memory” -> “storage”)
- Filters — It’s natural to apply filters in search, but currently, most apps expect filters to be an explicit UI operation. Users have to do two separate disjoint activities to get the result they want (“blue jeans under 2000 Rs”)
Voice powered search, if done right, can alleviate these challenges. Especially when clubbed with the ability to allow users to search in their language and allowing more natural searches with filters.
Continuous and Contextual Conversation
Voice enables a new level of convenience that mimics the advantages that we get with an offline shopping experience. Just like a store assistant helping with a sale, a smart Voice Assistant can help you get things done quickly and contextually —
Voice Assistant: What are you looking for?
User: Blue jeans
VA: Showing you our most popular blue jeans.
User: Show me below 500 Rs
VA: Sure. Showing you blue jeans below 500 Rs
User: How about in red?
VA: Got it. Showing you red jeans below 500 Rs
Now, this is a very natural conversation that we are all used to doing in the real world.
Voice to cart
Voice enables users to complete their tasks the fastest. What would have been a 3–4 step process (search, optionally apply filters, select and then specify quantify) can now be simplified into a single command that enables the user to directly add items to cart or at the least into two steps where the disambiguation is not possible.
User: 2 kgs of Ashirvaad aata
VA: Added 2 kg pack of Aashirvaad Atta to your cart
In this case, it’s now possible to identify the actual SKU and the quantity and add it to the cart directly.
User: 5 dozen egg
VA: Please select which type of egg from the screen
User: clicks on the egg type
In this case, the user is given a bunch of “egg” choices and as soon as they select one, the item can be added to cart without them again needing to specify the quantity.
Promotions of offers are key drivers of the retail economy because they allow brands to promote new products or clear out existing inventory to make way for newer ones. But many users who could have availed those offers miss out on them because they are not aware of it. Showing banners of offers is the usual practice, but because of the number of elements on the screen, a user might miss out on them.
Voice promotions are just-in-time voice nudges that contextually inform the shopper about the availability of offers (“There is an offer for buy 2 get 1 free. Would you like to buy 2 items instead?”), and potentially following that up with an explicit yes or no question. Again very closely mimicking the real-world experience, where the person manning the checkout counter has the best influence to push an offer (“Ma’am, did you know you could buy 3 of this at 20% off?”).
As your app grows in complexity, the number of things that users can do in your app increases. Imagine a shopper’s experience at a 500 sq ft shop vs a 25000 sq ft shop. They need easy ways to guide them through the various things your app offers.
Traditionally, users tend to browse around the app to discover what they want. It could be browsing the catalog or using the menu bar to navigate to various parts of the app, etc.
Voice Navigation allows users to be on the driving seat and just speak out what their intent is (“fruits and vegetables”, “track my order”, “where is my cart”, “offers”) and the app can quickly take them to their destination without them having to figure it out or using the screen to do it themselves.
Hands-free shopping, shopping list creation, Voice feedback, and many many more
There are lots of new capabilities that Voice shopping enables that is otherwise not possible. The ability to use the app without having to interact with it constantly (hands-free shopping) or the ability to quickly blurt out their shopping list (list creation) or the ability to collect better quality feedback by allowing users to share their experiences by just taking to the app.
Voice Shopping journey is just beginning
Voice Shopping is just beginning, and while the biggies are beginning to experiment with it and pushing the boundary of what’s possible, the possibilities however are endless and are only limited by the creativity of the e-Comm player and the engineering capabilities of the Voice Assistant platform.
If you are interested in adding a Voice Assistant to your e-commerce app (mobile or web), do sign up for a demo request here.