For brands that want to sidestep Alexa’s seeming deathgrip on the voice assistant market, Google Assistant has emerged as the partner of choice. Initially, Asos will allow customers shopping by voice to explore six categories within men’s wear and women’s wear, with the potential to expand based on customer response. The upgraded Enki is available through Google Home speakers or the Google Assistant mobile app for Android or iOS, and is activated by saying, “Hey Google, talk to Asos.” Consumers will see products displayed on their smartphone as they shop.
The British online fashion marketplace’s voice commerce announcement comes on the heels of news that fellow British retailer Argos implemented shop-by-voice capabilities, also with Google as a partner, but with the goal of driving traffic to physical stores.
Millennials are a tech-happy, though by no means monolithic, generation—willing to check out new technologies as long as it fits their connected lifestyles. Salesforce data from 2017 says the 18-to-38-year-old crowd is the biggest driver of virtual voice assistant adoption, though that can present challenges for retailers and brands. Digitas data from August revealed that millennials are twice as likely as older shoppers to purchase the first product that a voice bot spits out, even if it wasn’t the brand they initially were searching for. That’s why an Asos-controlled bot makes sense; it gives consumers the voice-first approach and ease they want while engaging within the Asos brand experience.
Though it’s still very early days for voice commerce, a growing number of retailers are either experimenting with the technology or deploying voice features outright so as not to be caught on their heels when the adoption wave crashes on them.
Amazon and its Alexa digital assistant lead the voice industry and have been instrumental in driving awareness and adoption of voice-enabled technology, though Google has closed the gap in recent months. However, skeptics wary of these tech giants’ stranglehold on this burgeoning market are developing voice-first artificial intelligence assistants of their own, such as the Omega platform brought to market by will.i.am’s company i.am+.