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We all are familiar with online shopping. But voice shopping or voice commerce is gaining traction, as people invest in upgrading their homes with smart technology.

Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant are now commonplace in households around the world. As people come to grips with the benefits these voice assistants can provide, some are turning to voice shopping as the ultimate convenience in keeping the kitchen stocked!

What is Voice Shopping?

Voice Shopping is gaining more and more popularity with each passing month.

Leading strategy consultants from OC&C predict that by the year 2022, voice shopping will have grown into a $40 Billion industry.

Voice shopping is simply the ability to place orders with retailers by interacting with a voice assistant. This is typically done through a smart speaker installed in your home.

What are Smart Speakers?

Smart Speakers are becoming an essential part of every home. They can listen to and respond to what you say. Such as asking for the latest news, playing music, or controlling the lights in your home. At the core of their hardware, is voice assistant software, such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.

Smart Speakers are programmed to respond to certain trigger words. For example, uttering the wake words “Alexa” or “OK Google”, will trigger these voice assistants to activate and respond to your query.

Voice shopping with Alexa on the Amazon Echo

The Echo and Echo Dot are flagship devices from Amazon that were launched back in 2014. They come with Amazon Alexa and feature microphones that can record what you say. 

After you have asked it to perform a task, Amazon Echo uses Wi-Fi and connects to Amazon Cloud to analyze the request and formulate a response. Once it has figured out what it should respond with, it vocalizes the response through the inbuilt speakers to communicate with you. This entire process takes only a couple of seconds.

How it works

To activate this device, you can say “Alexa” or “Echo”. When it’s activated, you will see the ring on its top light up. Now, if you haven’t used Amazon Alexa before, don’t worry about how you structure your sentences. Make sure you are speaking a natural language.  

For example, use the words “Alexa order”, and this device will give you a list of items you bought during the previous month. Say the words “Alexa, what are today’s deals?” and you will receive the best deals for you.

For a typical voice order, you can ask “Alexa, order laundry detergent”. Alexa will search Amazon for the most relevant product and inform you of its price asking would you like to order it. If you’re happy then you can say yes to confirm the order and it will be placed. Easy!

How to stop unwanted Alexa voice orders!

Have your kids accidentally placed an order for something you don’t need. Don’t be shocked if they have. In a recent story, a child accidentally placed an order for an expensive dollhouse. The parents were not expecting something like this would happen, but they had to pay for the dollhouse anyway.

Don’t worry though! To stop such things from happening to you, you can easily put an end to unwanted Alexa voice orders.

  1. Launch the Alexa app.
  2. Hit the left-hand menu button, it will open up the menu choices.
  3. Navigate to Settings >> Account settings >> Voice purchasing.
  4. Turn off Purchase by Voice.
  5. Or enter a 4 digit passcode to restrict voice ordering.
  6. Hit “Save Changes”
  7. Done – No more unwanted voice orders!

Voice shopping with Google Assistant on Nest and Google Home Speakers

Smart Google Devices such as Google Nest come with Google Assistant built into them. To activate these devices, simply say “OK Google” or “Hey Google”.

After activation, you can ask them to play your favorite song, to resume a podcast you were listening to, to give you the latest news, to control your home speakers and TV, to ask for the weather forecast, and of course to order items from an online shop.

How it works

Unlike Amazon, which has its own inventory, Google Smart Devices depend on third party stores to get your orders delivered. These third parties are called Google Express partners. Some popular and trusted stores on this partner program include Costco, Target, Home Depot, PetSmart, and Walmart. 

Google Nest and Google Home Speakers come with pre-installed Google Assistant. To place orders, first activate Google Assistant. Then, use your natural way of speaking and look for items such as your favorite stores. 

For example, you can place an order for a product by saying “OK Google, order paper towels from CostCo”. The Google assistant will then fetch the most relevant product and tell you the price, asking you if you’re happy to confirm the order. By confirming, the order is immediately placed.

How to switch on voice shopping with Google Home

Google Assistant lets its users search for nearby stores. Most Google Express Partner stores provide free delivery if you meet their minimum purchase requirement (usually $25-$35).

  1. Launch the Google Home smartphone app
  2. Select the menu icon in the top-left corner
  3. Tap on More Settings
  4. Scroll down until you see ‘Personal results’ option, switch it on
  5. Now navigate back to the More Settings page, select Payments
  6. From there, enter your billing details and delivery address
  7. Enable “Allow payments with your Assistant”
  8. Tap “Done”
How to switch off voice shopping with Google Home and stop unwanted orders

Having Voice Shopping turned on without some controls might be risky. Anyone who is near the device could potentially place an order. If your kids enjoy interacting with the voice assistant they may accidentally place an order for goods. Worst case scenario, you will end up having to pay for things that you don’t need and didn’t order yourself.

  1. Launch your Google Home App and log in
  2. From the hamburger menu, select More Settings >> Payments
  3. Disable the “Pay through your Assistant” option.
  4. Or you can select “Confirm your identity before paying” to provide some controls to who can place orders.
  5. All done!

Extending Voice Shopping – Walmart Voice

Walmart is a leading retailer for grocery items. As of 2020, it has ended up having over 11,000 stores. From the USA to Asia, it operates in 27 different countries.

To make shopping easier and more convenient, Walmart partnered with Google and introduced the Walmart Voice orders application. Using it, you can order items through your smartphone, smartwatch, and any other smart home device.

  1. To set up Walmart Voice order, simply say “Ok Google, talk to Walmart.”
  2. On the next window, tap the link to connect and sign in to your Walmart account. To buy tomatoes, simply say “OK Google, tell Walmart to add fresh tomatoes to my cart.” or “OK Google, buy tomatoes” to immediately order them.
  3. You will be told the price and asked to confirm the order.

Extending Voice Shopping – Order a Pizza!

Amazon Alexa is a powerful voice assistant. Third-party developers can extend Alexa’s abilities by adding new “Skills”.

For example, to order pizza you can use either the “Domino’s Pizza” or the “Pizza Hut” Amazon Skill. You can enable these two skills either via the Alexa app or via voice command.

After these skills are enabled, you can order pizza using voice commands. For example, after your setup Amazon Alexa with Pizza Hut Skill, you need to link it to your Pizza Hut Account. Afterward, simply say “Alexa, ask Pizza Hut to send the usual.” That should do it!

Benefits of Voice Shopping

Voice shopping makes online ordering all the way more convenient. 

While you don’t have a visual display to review different products, it can be perfectly convenient when reordering products you buy week in, week out.

This is especially handy in the kitchen where you can ask Alexa or Google to re-order staple products like kitchen towels, pet food, laundry detergent etc.

Alexa and Google provide personalized results when you ask them to order a product. So if you have previously ordered the product before, it will propose that one as opposed to a random selection.

If you don’t want to place an order via Alexa or Google, you can still add products to your shopping cart to be reviewed later.

Challenges of Voice Shopping

Everything has a downside, and voice shopping is no different. Compared with traditional e-commerce stores, voice shopping comes with inherent limits on how many products it can propose.

Although voice shopping is gaining momentum, it still has hurdles to overcome. Voice assistants are based on natural language processing to interpret requests from people. The accuracy of this natural language processing is not 100% so sometimes Alexa and Google can misinterpret your question or command. The accuracy of these voice assistants is constantly improving.

Sources

express.google.com
amazon.com

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