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Adobe Report Finds Voice Commerce Growing as Consumers Adopt Smart Speakers

Voice shopping may not be ready to upend e-commerce, but a new report finds smart assistants playing an important role on the consumer’s path to purchase.

Though much of the hype surrounding smart speakers and digital voice assistants focuses on the “buy,” the truth is that for now, voice technologies are a commerce enabler more so than the ultimate point of transaction—though consumers are warming up to placing purchases by speaking.

Adobe Analytics’ State of Voice Assistants report, published this month, surveyed 1,000 consumers to understand what’s really going on with smart speakers and digital voice assistants.  The report uncovered encouraging progress with voice-based shopping activities even if actual purchases made by voice (25 percent) continue to lag smart speakers’ usefulness for things like researching products (47 percent) or building shopping lists (43 percent). Nearly one third (32 percent) of consumers indicated its role in comparing product prices.

Confirming the smart speaker’s utility for replenishment, the Adobe report found that 21 percent have used voice technologies to re-order past purchases. Some consumers (17 percent) are even using voice to order products for in-store pick-up, all but endorsing Argos’ recent decision to partner with the Google Assistant and enable similar “speak-and-collect” functionality.

Voice device ownership in the U.S. is on the rise, up to 32 percent in August compared with 28 percent in January 2018, equaling a 14 percent increase. Amazon and Google remain the dominant forces in the smart speaker space, though Apple’s HomePod and the Sonos One are angling for market share, too.

With the holiday season looming, millions more smart devices will undoubtedly be making their way into households around the country, with Google and Amazon expected to heavily promote their hardware to drive sales as the Seattle tech giant did around July’s record-shattering Prime Day.

That said, many (45 percent) smart speaker owners are planning to buy themselves yet another device (or many), compared with 23 percent of non-device owners who intend to pick one up for themselves, Adobe revealed. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of smart speaker owners plan to spread the voice assistant joy to others and gift a device to someone else, though just 9 percent of those who don’t own a device plan to do the same.

Adobe’s findings are a welcome counter to The Information’s recent report that just 2 percent of Alexa device users have made a purchase via voice this year, which called into question the market potential for voice-based commerce.

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