SEATTLE: Amazon, and many external surveys, suggest that voice shopping is big business. It has become a key part of both its and Google’s smart-speaker offers, but a report from The Information contradicts this, claiming that just 2% of Alexa users have made a purchase with their voice through the platform.

According to two sources briefed on the numbers who spoke to the website, it is not only the number of voice customers that is low, but also the numbers of those returning to the medium to make purchases. Of the people who have bought through the platform, 90% have not done so again.  

“Clearly, voice shopping is not yet in the stage of being a mass market product,” one of the sources said.

There was some redeeming news for the platform as a sales channel, however. Around 20% have engaged with shopping through asking about deals or checking the status of orders.

Patrick Givens, head of VaynerMedia’s emerging tech division, told the website that when clients ask how to sell more product through voice assistants, he makes sure to lower their expectations. “We’ve done a lot of work to manage back the expectations to say we don’t expect a high volume of purchase here right away,” he said.

The technology is currently in a learning and development stage, Givens believes, rather than at a stage of driving major sales for third parties. Amazon, meanwhile is cagey about figures, despite maintaining that “millions of customers use Alexa to shop because it is the most convenient way to capture needs in the moment.”

Clearly, with special offers on products bought through voice, however, Amazon is trying to encourage more voice-based buyers. A developer with experience of building skills on the platform, Jo Jaquinta, said “I know no app that pays for its development costs itself,” adding that the payoff for brands now is of publicity and awareness.

However, other reports from reputable sources claim that as many as a fifth of Alexa users have used the platform to make a purchase, spend that will fuel a voice-enabled market that OC&C Strategy Consultants expect to be worth $40 billion up from $2 billion today.

One of the sources explained that one of Amazon’s challenges is that it struggles to find patterns between the customers who are shopping, which is key to creating strategies that will grow usage. “Once you find out what’s special about them,” the source said, “then you can grow them very quickly”.

Sourced from The Information; additional content by WARC staff