Their names are Cortana, Siri, Google Assistant or Alexa: the digital voice assistants of Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon, respectively. They respond to your verbal commands or answer your questions. What’s more, you can also control other smart devices like lamps, stereo equipment or TVs with voice command.
The so-called voice commerce is an intelligent extension of e-commerce. Its pioneer is – not surprisingly – Amazon and its digital voice assistant Alexa. Along with the Alexa app, users need an Echo speaker unit, which is able to communicate with consumers by saying things like:
“Alexa, what’s on my calendar for today?“
“Bello returns from the veterinarian at 6:00 PM today.“
“Alexa, add tennis balls and dog biscuits to my shopping list.“
“I have added tennis balls and dog biscuits to your shopping list […]“
Having said that, voice-activated shopping is not quite as simple as the example would suggest because – after all- there are many different types of tennis balls and dog biscuits available on the market. In this case, Alexa selects your preferences and refers to previously ordered items by its Prime members. Generally, only Prime-designated products can be ordered in this fashion at this juncture. Unspecified products, consulting services or product comparisons are no option.
The system uses the standard default payment and shopping settings. Users can set up a verbal confirmation code via the Alexa app, disable the voice purchasing function as well as review product and order details. Consumers can also cancel an order immediately after they placed it via voice command. There is one drawback though: there is no interface to verify whether the order is correct. Customers get a standard audio and email confirmation, while changes can only be made manually through the app.