More Voices in the Voice Commerce Debate

Author: Krista Garcia

August 20, 2018

The debate over the state of voice commerce continues.

Tech news site The Information made waves earlier this month when it reported that only 2% of Amazon Alexa owners had used the smart speaker to buy something by voice, and out of that small figure just 10% made repeat purchases.

The report was contentious because it contradicted other estimates indicating that voice commerce was considerably more common.

In the wake of that report, HubSpot polled US internet users on the matter. Its survey was small—only 491 people—but within that group, one-third had made a purchase on a smart speaker, while 44% had not. The remaining 23% didn’t own a smart speaker.

By our estimates, 21.9% of US internet users own smart speakers, a figure that was adjusted upward in April 2018 due to stronger-than-expected adoption.

Additionally, we estimate that 28.2% of US smart speaker users will make at least one purchase using a smart speaker in 2018. That figure will increase by 31.5% next year, then slow to 12.8% by 2020 for a penetration rate of 33.4%.

When US internet users were asked by Bizrate Insights in July 2018 what primary factor prevented them from making more purchases through a smart speaker, it wasn’t due to cost or poor search results, but fears about privacy and security (16.0%), followed by the inability to see products (10.0%), an issue Amazon might remedy with its Echo Show.

To date, one of the most realistic use cases for voice commerce is reordering and adding items to a shopping list, a more logical application especially for Amazon Prime members using Echo devices than a hypothetical future where smart speakers replicate or replace ecommerce altogether.