Voice commerce only good for 0.5% of e-commerce

Photo: Shutterstock

Voice commerce, shopping through a smart speaker like Amazon Echo, struggles to gain popularity. eMarketer had hoped that almost a third of users would be shopping through smart speakers by 2019, but it turns out less than one percent has adopted the practice.


Not 31 %, but 1 %

In 2019, 74.2 million Americans will be using smart speakers at least once a month, predicts eMarketer, and at least 63.3 % of those uses will be on an Amazon device. Although impressive, that number is less than Amazon's market share of 66.6 % this year. The expected turning point still has not occurred and while Google Home is still far behind Amazon, it is still a growing threat. 


Whether the uptake will actually happen is not clear yet: many trend watchers and analysts (including eMarketer) turned out to be wrong when they predicted the explosion of voice commerce in 2018. They assumed that the increasing intelligence and versatility of voice-operated speakers would have earned them a central place in the living room last year, with the increasing competition between Amazon Echo and Google Home as a contributing factor.


The prediction that 31 % of users would be shopping through their smart speakers by last year has now been adjusted dramatically: shopping through smart speakers achieved a 2.1-billion turnover in the United States in  2018, which amounts to less than half a percent of all American e-commerce sales. Nevertheless, the Echo is becoming a bigger part of Christmas, according to Amazon.


Many voice shoppers drop out

The market is developing at a slower pace, and that might just prove to be an opportunity for retailers to jump on the bandwagon and improve the user experience: while some 37 % of American users used their smart speakers for shop-related activities this year, far fewer actually used it to buy something.


Clearly the buying experience needs work, claims eMarketer. Brands will need to spend more attention to the promotion of their voice commerce apps. The voice revolution may still be a while off, but it is gaining steam, they believe. We will have to wait and see...