H&M Home Enables Voice Shopping with Google Assistant

Last week H&M group launched an Action on Google Assistant that guides users while shopping for home decor. The Action is called H&M Home Gift Guide, H&M Home is H&M’s interior design line of products. Only users with a nearby H&M Home store are able to use the application though, and there are fewer than 10 H&M Home store locations in the U.S. Advertised as a holiday shopping gift guide, users can look through the H&M catalog to tell Google Assistant what they want to order. If using an Android device, users can link their credit card to their Google Account in order to buy H&M Home products via voice command. Try asking H&M Home for a small decorative gift, or for gifts around 20 dollars to try it out.

H&M Home Voice Stylist Action Initially Launched in June 2018

H&M Home initially announced the creation of a voice application, called H&M Home Stylist, in June. It was showcased during the Stockholm Fashion Tech Talks along with H&M’s experiment in augmented reality via its Monki brand. At the time, H&M said the voice stylist offered “personal stying suggestions, mood boards and inspiration for every room in the home,” even including an “exclusive human voice.” The recently launched H&M Home Gift Guide is a revamped Stylist, prepped with Holiday themed products.  I was unable to try out the action as I do not live near one of the 10 US H&M Home stores, but here is a promotional video from the initial launch.

Voice Assistants as Stylists: Similarity to Amazon’s Echo Look

Having a voice assistant as a stylist is an idea we have seen before – most notably with the Echo Look. The Echo Look is not really a smart speaker, instead, it is more of a voice-activated fashion advisor. Housed in its own device, the Echo Look will take a picture of a user and offer feedback on different outfits, suggesting clothing items to pair with those already in a user’s wardrobe.

Although the H&M Home Gift Guide will not give users recommendations based on their uploaded photos, it does provide styling advice in a similar way by asking what kind of theme users are interested in. The action will also provide “mood boards” to gauge a user’s interest in specific items. The Echo Look fell flat with consumers, most likely because it was not very practical to have an entire device, with a high price tag, dedicated to something a cell phone could do. The H&M Home Gift Guide, however, is a much more applicable use case. Taking advantage of Google Assistant’s presence on mobile and smart speakers, the H&M Home Gift Guide, and Stylist, does not need a separate device to function.

H&M is the second-largest global clothing retailer, just behind Spain-based Inditex which is the parent company of Zara. The company has a significant online presence, with online shopping available in 33 countries. Creating a voice application is a great way to take advantage of the increasing presence of voice assistants. Although, it would certainly benefit from increasing its home decor availability in the U.S.

Enabling the Voice Shopping Journey with Multimodal

Bret Kinsella adds: One thing to pay attention to is that H&M is looking at voice shopping holistically. You can shop via text, voice-only, or voice plus visual on a smart display. On a Google Assistant-enabled Lenovo Smart Display, recommendations are shown as images that you can browse by voice, touch scrolling, and ask for more information. This is a step up from a voice-only experience since home decor has a strong visual element. But, it is notable that multiple modes of interaction are offered to align with consumer needs and preferences at any given time.

In addition, you can use the service to identify a gift (i.e. the shopping process) and complete a purchase (i.e. transaction). Voicebot’s Voice Shopping Consumer Adoption Report in 2018 found that consumers are using voice more in the pre-purchase consideration shopping phase than for transactions today. The more recent Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report also found that one in four voice assistant users on smartphones employ voice for product research at least monthly. H&M recognizes the impact this will have on retail and is providing a full shopping lifecycle for consumers by voice. You should expect to see more of this in 2019.

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