As businesses in every industry scramble to improvise “contactless” strategies for interacting with customers and delivering products and services. The adoption of voice search technology has rapidly accelerated for everything from internet searches and shopping to ordering food from a table in a restaurant. Here is how brands flock to voice search as 2020 goes “contastless.”
Whether a business is completely virtual or maintains brick and mortar locations, it seems clear that voice technology will alter the business model much sooner than previously thought.
Every industry from food to financial services to retail and even travel are being impacted by voice search. Voice search may even be a solution to the supply chain problems that embroiled the country during the pandemic.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of brands paid little, if any, attention to their identity and positioning on voice search.
Even fewer were embracing voice technology that transformed their fulfillment and delivery processes. Peter Peng, the CEO of Jetson, which helps brands build their voice search presence, has seen a surge in companies pivoting to voice in light of COVID: “The global pandemic has changed the way that people shop and do business. Virus-related restrictions have led to increased demand for ‘touchless technology’ — or e-commerce options that employ technology allowing consumers to maximize their shopping experience while minimizing physical contact and the need to touch screens.”
As we look to the future of a world filled with less “touch”, it’s important for every company to at least review how their brand is represented even during a simple voice search, and whether their brand is even searchable at all.
Voice Could Become a Windfall for Fast Movers
It’s important to remember that every major shift in the industry throughout the centuries has brought with it even more opportunity than cost.
The competition for attention through voice search is currently significantly less dense than it will be in another two to three years when there is higher adoption from brands. According to Peng, brands adopting voice technology quickly will have the first-mover advantage which will lead to better placement in search results and higher customer acquisition, especially for smaller brands.
Says Pend, “Right now, relatively few small businesses are offering voice ordering. That means that if your business is proactive about getting on board with what we call the “voice revolution,” you’re far more likely to get top billing on voice search results.”
To take advantage of the “contactless future” a brand should be looking at two key questions:
- How can I optimize my presence to be found via voice search? Which is to say, do you have a voice search profile and is it consistent with the rest of your branding?
- How can I offer a voice solution for actually purchasing and receiving my product or service? Are we currently selling any of our products directly on voice assistant tools (ie. Amazon Alexa)?
What Industry is Seeing the Fastest Voice Tech Switch?
We also asked Peter which industry he has seen the fastest growth of voice technology in. His response? Food. “Without a doubt, the food industry has been one of the fastest-growing areas for voice ordering. Jetson boasts over 10,000 food-related vendors on our platform.”
Indeed as many cities begin allowing restaurants to reopen, voice technology for placing orders at your table seems to be an integral part of keeping both employees and customers safe.
Where to Start with Voice
For brands who have not yet explored a voice strategy and are now forced to adapt rapidly, understanding the technology and process may appear daunting. Peter Peng recommends starting with strategy before getting lost in the tactical implementation: “The first step would be to consider your company’s long-term goals. What do you want for your company, and how could voice search and voice commerce be part of that plan?”
How Does Voice Fit Your Plan?
Once you know how voice technology fits into your overall business strategy (ie, will you only be implementing a voice search identity or also using voice technology in other areas of order fulfillment, customer service, etc), you can tackle each component individually.
There are a number of tools available, including Jetson, that streamline the process of creating a brand’s “voice profile” and optimizing it for maximum searchability and lead generation while making it affordable for businesses of all sizes. Being able to sell your products directly on voice assistant platforms also creates a new stream of revenue that many ecommerce players currently overlook.
The next step is to tackle your brand identity on voice search as quickly as possible.
Consumers are not waiting for brands to adapt, they are already flocking to voice search at a higher rate than ever due to the unique circumstances of the times. Neglecting your voice search identity could be costing business money each day. Making sure your brand is searchable and optimized for maximum placement is the first priority to tackle.
Avoid Being Intimidated by Larger Brands Already Doing Voice
Peng points out that the biggest mistake most companies make is shying away from voice search because of the intimidating capabilities of larger brands. “A lot of companies will see big corporations like Wal-Mart or Starbucks offering voice-powered commerce options and will think, ‘oh, that’s cool, but they’re a lot bigger than me. Or maybe, “I can’t afford to invest in voice technology.’” Indeed the costs of voice capability for ecommerce have reduced significantly with the proliferation of technology and tools that make it a viable option for anybody.
Media planning company, Comscore, predicted that by 2020, 50% of all online searches will be voice.
That prediction was made prior to the pandemic that accelerated the trend further. The benefits of optimizing your brand for voice technology run the gamut from increased exposure and online traffic to shortening your sales cycle. The sales cycle now makes it easier for customers to buy from your brand to even demonstrating your commitment to customer safety and concerns during uncertain times.
Many services, including Jetson, even make it seamless for a brand to list and sell products directly on voice assistant platforms such as Amazon Alexa, Google Voice, and others, and they’ll facilitate the sale and process the payments for you.
Adapting to the shift to voice technology quickly will level the playing field for companies of all sizes.
All companies or varying sizes will be able to gain the first-mover advantage and secure valuable real estate that will become increasingly competitive just twelve months from now. Making the investment at a lower cost now is likely what is going to set apart the most visible brands of the future.
Image Credit: alleksana; Pexels
Editor In Chief at ReadWrite
Brad is the editor overseeing contributed content at ReadWrite.com. He previously worked as an editor at PayPal and Crunchbase. You can reach him at brad at readwrite.com.