How Voice Technology Is Reshaping the Retail Experience For Consumers And Merchants Voice payments could be the revolution that boosts customer experience, satisfaction and revenue, all at the same time

By Kumar Abhishek

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Two elements that have fueled the recent explosive growth of e-commerce are convenience and accessibility. When the pandemic struck, it also sparked an almost immediate increase in the use of voice assistants, particularly in sectors where customers avoided touching surfaces, paying with cash, and engaging with other people to complete transactions.

The pandemic accelerated voice tech adoption globally but was rising long before COVID-19. The most prominent example is the use of Siri or Alexa to shop, listen to music, find recipes, and more. Today, voice technology has moved beyond playing music or checking the weather and penetrating industries. Retailers are now inspired to include adaptable, contactless payment choices such as voice payment technologies into their business practices, partly because of consumer expectations for contactless payment methods due to health and safety worries.

Rise of voice commerce

Capgemini surveyed 4,800 consumers and over 950 executives from 12 major economies, including China, India, the US, the UK, Australia, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Brazil. It found that 77 per cent of consumers expect to use touchless technologies more frequently to avoid interactions requiring physical contact, and 62 per cent expect to do so even after the pandemic. Such figures demonstrate that this trend is bound to rise with apparent longevity.

By the end of 2022, there will be 168 million voice commerce users in India, up from 83 million users who utilize voice search choices for buying. It also has the potential to bring in non-digital savvy consumers on board, too, who have shied away from UPI or commerce apps, etc., for the lack of digital literacy. Specifically in India, it will allow users to communicate to interact with technology in their preferred language.

The 'what next' of consumer experience

The ultimate aim of voice technology is to provide hands-free and seamless engagement to consumers for faster checkout. This mechanism is in line with changing consumer expectations. In the past, customers evaluated their restaurant experiences mainly on the human element, including excellent food quality, friendly service, and both customized and unhurried encounters. These days, the key to customer happiness for all restaurants and fast food chains is safety and the ability to order, pick up, and pay for food with little personal involvement.

Another significant advantage of voice technology is the increased scope of financial inclusion. For the urban population, these solutions are shaping new customer experiences. Similarly, for the rural population, it creates complete access. As these solutions support all languages and do not require 'typed' inputs from consumers, they will empower customers in all sections to embrace various digital transactions. Even merchants can enable contactless and cardless payments on existing infrastructure with a software update. It comes out to be a highly cost-effective and easy-to-implement solution with no additional hardware changes or infrastructure investments.

Voice-to-cart movement

The voice assistant revolution, spearheaded by Google Assistant, Apple's Siri, and Amazon's Alexa, gave rise to voice-based payments. This transition was expected. In line with it, retailers must develop a next-level customer experience as more individuals use their mobile devices for practically all transactional purposes. The change is quite evident in the payment industry. We are changing the way we make purchases thanks to voice technologies. Customers can enable the voice payment system and select the option to pay using voice on the brand's online store by using voice commerce and voice payments.

Customers select the products, place the order through voice and make payment as a checkout. This scenario is expected to increase as it becomes more prevalent in the upcoming years. Voice payments are becoming increasingly common, which is a testament to the '24/7 connected' way of life. It provides customers with services that are quick and simple to use in today's fast-paced world. At the same time, brands benefit since they now have access to previously inaccessible personal information and consumer behavior trends. It's impossible to dismiss the appeal of a convenient, hands-free, and frictionless payment mechanism. Voice payments could be the revolution that boosts customer experience/satisfaction and revenue, both at the same time.

Kumar Abhishek

Founder and CEO, ToneTag

Kumar Abhishek is the Founder and CEO of ToneTag, the first company to enable contactless payment acceptance on EDC machines using sound waves. Kumar helms the company’s strategy and its software development. Driven by his desire to find technological solutions to encourage financial inclusion and improve the digital payments space, Kumar was instrumental in the company’s development of a software-only product that offers the interoperability and frictionless transactional capacity of cash.

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