Thanks, Alexa. But I'll Buy It In-Store

Traditional methods still trump voice-enabled devices for shopping

Author: Jen King

May 8, 2018

More people are leaning on voice-enabled devices for routine tasks, like research. But when it comes to voice commerce, most still prefer to shop the traditional way. 

In fact, a February 2018 survey by PwC reveals that consumers are more comfortable visiting a physical store or shopping online than they are using their voice assistant to shop. For example, US voice assistant users are roughly three times more likely to shop online the traditional way (76%) than they are to use a smart speaker to shop (24%). They also preferred "old fashioned" actions like visiting a physical store, shopping through a mobile app and calling customer service to chat with a human. 

Interestingly, respondents preferred to use voice assistants for other tasks—like searching for something or texting a friend. 

But PwC's study is just one of many on the topic of conversational commerce. There are some that mirror PwC's findings, while others report something different. For example, data from Kantar found that while many retailers are looking at the various opportunities voice commerce presents, a minority of US consumers own a voice-enabled device—and for those that do, shopping activities are not terribly popular. 

Meanwhile, separate research by Delineate revealed that more than a third of US voice-enabled speaker owners have bought groceries or toiletries, at least once, via a smart speaker. And another 22% said they've done so frequently. 

Essentially, voice commerce is growing, but it's not quite mainstream yet. 

We forecast that the number of US smart speaker users will total 61.1 million this year. And of that group, 17.2 million will make at least one purchase with voice command during the calendar year. By 2020, that number will climb to 25.6 million.