Retailers must take voice tech seriously in 2018, Savvy

Retailers must take voice tech seriously in 2018, Savvy

One in five UK grocery shoppers now has a voice assistant at home and 58% of those have bought something using it. That’s according to new research from Savvy, involving 1,000 people. Following the Christmas surge, Amazon Echo household penetration now stands at 18%; in June 2017 only 7% had one of these devices. There are, meanwhile, changes ahead for Click & Collect; 49% of shoppers said they would find the likes of Sainsbury’s Chop Chop service appealing and 63% would trial a service like Amazon Instant Pick Up if it was available.

2018 will see retailers and brands step up the pace of innovation as they look to catch up accelerating shopper demands. More brands will integrate shopping capabilities into their social media brand communications. There has already been a sharp rise in the incorporation of call to action buttons into Facebook, Instagram and YouTube posts. These give shoppers the ability to act on inspiration, whether it’s to add a product directly to an online basket or providing directions to a store that stocks the product. Savvy says experience shows that the latter in particular has excellent potential to deliver ROI.

Increasing adoption of voice technology, such as Amazon Echo, is set to propel digital assistants up the agenda and establish them as credible shopper touchpoints. Unsurprisingly, Amazon is leading the way in encouraging shoppers to use their Echo devices to order products by voice, but they are not the only ones. Morrisons (which has a supply relationship with Amazon) launched an Alexa ‘Skill’ in 2017 allowing shoppers to add items to their online basket, as well as checkout. Ocado too has an Alexa Skill.

While Tesco does not have this, its online shoppers can add items to their basket using either Echo or Google Home devices by registering with the IFTTT website. Penetration of these voice devices will only grow, not only as more people buy Echo and Google Home devices, but as their technology is incorporated into more appliances, from cars to smart fridges. Retailers and brands need to take voice technology seriously as a shopper touchpoint, developing compelling content and functionality that delivers better convenience and relevant inspiration for shoppers, Savvy argues.

“There are structural changes to channels of distribution taking place – indeed online retailing will be boosted by better technology and improving logistics, while newer agile competitors will continue to thrive, better able to adapt quickly to changing consumer needs and unburdened by legacy cost structures and ways of working,” says Alastair Lockhart, Insight Director at Savvy.

“Together, these factors mean that the old guard needs to take stock and react – in many cases radically. This is no longer about tweaking ranges and marketing priorities. This is about acknowledging that shoppers’ attitudes towards brands and traditional ways of shopping have changed, and will continue to change as younger shoppers mature and account for a larger share of spending. Whether it be the Big Four supermarkets or department stores, they face the reality that the assumptions that had underpinned their business models for so many years no longer hold true and will only become increasingly obsolete over time. The reality is that there is too much retail space in the UK and some of that will have to close. There are too many brands that lack a real purpose or benefit. Some will need to go, others will have to reinvent themselves.”

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