Ecommerce businesses are making more of an effort to work with their customers on offering a better customer experience. They understand that their business thrives on the fact that people enjoy the convenience of shopping on their phone or from the comfort of their home. Rather than focusing on selling themselves on their products, they’re finding success with selling a personalized experience. And what better way to offer a more personalized, streamlined customer experience than by incorporating voice assistants into the buyer’s journey?

Smartphones are extremely convenient, but not when, for example, you’re driving home from work and you just remembered you needed to buy groceries and have them delivered by tomorrow the latest. Or you were out shopping and forgot something halfway back to your house and you need to order it before you forget. Life happens, which is why voice assistants are a thing. Maybe you’re watching a movie on Amazon Prime and you want to buy it, so you ask Alexa to do just that without missing a scene. Here, we’re going to break down three ways voice assistants are changing ecommerce businesses for the better.

Smarter grocery shopping

Grocery shopping is an incessant reminder of how bad your memory is. Even when we write lists, there’s always something we forget. Perhaps you’re guilty of forgetting to bring the list with you? Well, while you’re on the couch watching TV, trying to go over all the things you need for the week, you can ask Alexa to help you with your shopping list.

Alexa can offer you recommendations and order you food that can also be checked up on by simply asking, “Where’s my stuff?” Now you don’t have to go to your computer or all the menus on the Amazon app to check on your recent orders. As more and more people take advantage of voice assistants like Alexa and Siri — and as these voice assistants continue to adapt and become more powerful thanks to machine learning technology — ecommerce businesses will offer better customer experiences by streamlining the buyer’s journey, making it easier for people to reorder the same products, and help them to make purchases without having to literally lift a finger to unlock their phones.

Voice authentication for added security

People today are more aware of cybersecurity thanks to the many breaches we’ve all experienced recently. One giant hurdle voice assistants will have to get over is acquiring the public’s trust. There are a large handful of people who are rightfully worried about how these devices work and what exactly triggers them to start listening. Tech companies are already starting to become more transparent in an effort to dissipate some of these fears, but there will always be a select few that will assume there’s no good to come out of this technology.

And the last thing they would think is possible is that these devices can offer added security when making a purchase. If you’re a mom with a child who loves to accidentally order toys and games on Amazon, you would probably benefit from having a voice-authentication backup. Another way this could be beneficial is with purchasing tickets to events. If you’re caught up in the middle of something that keeps you away from your phone or computer, a voice assistant could come in handy by offering voice authentication instead of a thumbprint or typical e-signature.

Adding more security to the buying process when you’re an ecommerce business is a surefire way of gaining a customer’s trust during a very impersonal interaction. The customer experience is a top priority for all businesses, but especially for ecommerce when managers and agents aren’t face-to-face with their customers. Adding security to the process helps sell the experience. Voice profiles already exist with Alexa. In a way, this acts as voice authentication that can help users protect themselves from security breaches and accidental purchases.

Personalized apps

Many apps are already taking advantage of voice assistants like Tide and Nestle. Tide provides hundreds of tips on stain removal while Nestle guides users through recipes. This can, and most likely will, become more mainstream as companies try to offer personalized experiences even after a customer makes a purchase. The last thing anyone wants to do is handle something like chicken, wash their hands, flip through a recipe on their phone, go back to the chicken, and repeat over and over until the recipe is complete.

People who make a purchase online understand that as soon as they receive the product, that’s the last they’re going to hear from the company. Unfortunately, that’s not a great way for companies to retain customers and build a strong foundation they can count on. Companies that last do so by checking up on their customers. It’s not impossible, but it’s not likely either that you’ll have a steady supply of one-time buyers to keep you in business for years and years to come.

That’s why companies such as Tide and Nestle are looking to personalize the customer experience. Nestle is a massive corporation that simply can’t focus on every customer on an individual level. Tide sells detergent primarily. It’s not the most exciting product, but we all need it. Tide can use voice assistants to help people with their hands full of dirty laundry while Nestle can help you by reading you the instructions to one of their many recipes as you cook.

More effective predictive purchasing

We all know that predictive analytics and machine learning technology are changing the way we do business, but many of — businesses included — aren’t quite sure how yet. Voice assistants are one of those ways that can help change the game for ecommerce businesses. Tons of people are already predicting that Alexa Voice Shopping will be the next major ecommerce trend, and it makes sense why.

To be completely fair, the software isn’t quite there yet, and only a limited number of people are using Alexa to shop; however, when AI becomes more mainstream and powerful, you’ll start to see that the recommendations you receive from Alexa will become more relevant to what you actually want and need. It should work in the same way that using Amazon in general works: the more products you search for, the more relevant the recommended items become.

Voice assistants can give life to these recommendations in a setting that typically doesn’t offer any personalization aside from the products being shoved down your throat. Siri and Alexa bring real conversations back to these impersonal interactions with ecommerce businesses. And as machine learning technology continues to develop, people, in theory, will be able to have better, more complicated conversations with voice assistants that can handle all kinds of tasks.

The final word

When it comes down to it, voice assistants are going to play a major role in ecommerce because more and more people are using Siri and Alexa in their everyday lives. Younger people in particular are more open to trying out new technologies, and millennial and generation Z are going to be the primary market in the very near future.

Even though the relationship between voice assistants and ecommerce are still in the infancy stage, there are some examples we’ve mentioned already of how the two already exist. As AI becomes more prevalent in business, we can expect better, more relevant product recommendations, smoother conversations, and higher expectations to offer another powerful channel to customers who are already embracing omnichannel marketing experiences. If you’re a manager of an ecommerce business, it’s time to start paying attention to trends and products like these while preparing your business’s infrastructure to support voice assistants.

By guest contributor Nick Campanella