Voice-Based AI Shopping Will Be the Next E-Commerce Battleground

By Juan Martinez, Lead Writer
February 24, 2021 • 2 minute read

Retailers that prepare their sites today for more sophisticated voice-based interactions, including those that utilize Conversational AI, will be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.

By the end of next year, voice-based search solutions will help customers find answers on e-commerce sites without the need for precise keyword-matching, due in no small part to Conversational AI.

As we’ve written about in the past, AI has already impacted search by helping companies like Google and Microsoft optimize algorithms to display the most relevant content after a search phrase has been typed. Additionally, voice assistants have provided people will a quick hands-free way to find a specific product or service and to receive customer support.

These methods for surfacing products rely too heavily on the searcher using precise keywords (as with rudimentary virtual assistants), or browsing through link after link of recommendations (e.g., Google Search) to find relevant responses. Today, a person utters or types a set of keywords. The search yields a list of results. The user chooses a single result and leaves the search engine (or the user enters a new set of keywords and the search engine presents a new list of links). Once the searcher clicks on a recommendation, the search engine ceases to be useful to the searcher.

“With voice search in its infancy, now is the time for marketers to get ahead,” writes Collin Colburn, Senior Analyst at Forrester. “Start to think about the questions customers ask across all channels today. Identify the channels, websites, and apps that your customers find information in and look to create visibility for your brand in those places.”

Search engines remember the terms for which users searched, the links on which users clicked, and the products users bought as a result of a search. However, because of their call-and-response approach to results, they can only deliver information via links. With Conversational AI-based Search, personalized historical data will refine future recommendations and purchases.

As way of example, the following interchange will be mainstream in the near future via voice-based Conversational AI:

Shopper: I would like to see blue shirts in size large.
Amelia: [Displaying choices] I have presented blue shirts in size large on the screen.
Shopper: I’d love that cotton Henley.
Amelia: Great. I should advise that based on your measurements, the cotton Henley might fit better in a medium.

The Conversational AI Difference

When users engage Amelia, as the market-leading Conversational AI platform, for search, she maintains detailed knowledge of user searches. As she knows every feature available for the relevant products listed on associated websites, Amelia can cross-reference and provide searchers with a list of suitable options and alternatives. She can then help users refine their preferences in order to surface only the most suitable products.

You can already experience this level of sophistication on large banking, insurance, and telecommunications websites. In the near future you’ll be able to log into your favorite e-commerce site and begin having conversations with a digital agent like Amelia who knows your purchase history, has an expert level of understanding about the e-commerce company’s product catalog, and can help you find exactly what you need— even if you don’t use the exact keywords.

We believe Conversational AI-based search will begin to completely transform how searches are conducted and how responses are delivered on e-commerce websites. Those retailers that prepare their sites today for these more sophisticated voice-based interactions will be leaps and bounds ahead of the competition.

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