Survey: Voice is for Buying Groceries, Not Plane Tickets

People would rather use voice to buy low-priced products than expensive purchases like airline tickets and hotel stays, according to a new survey by payments provider Paysafe and digital agency Loudhouse. A little over half of those surveyed said they would buy cheaper items by voice, compared to only 18 percent who said they’d arrange a vacation via voice technology.

Global Result

The new results add another data point to the growing body of research about how voice commerce is starting to emerge from its embryonic state. The survey asked 6,000 people in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, Austria, and Bulgaria for their opinions on using voice assistants and related technology for their consumer needs. Only 11 percent said they had already used their voice to identify themselves and buy things on the internet, even though 53 percent said they think buying by voice is faster and more convenient.

As is often the case with voice technology, security was a critical factor in making people reluctant to trust buying things by voice. Two-out-of-three people surveyed did say that adding voice and fingerprint identification makes them feel better about paying online, rising to 81 percent if a password is also needed to confirm their ID. Despite this, only one-in-three said they trust that voice tech keeps their finances secure. Privacy also came up as is often the case, with about half of the respondents not wanting companies to have their biometric data on file.

Future Purchase

A lot of the potential purchasing comes down to actual availability of smart speakers and other voice assistant-enabled devices. Voicebot’s own surveys, as well as results from digital commerce consulting firm SUMO and eMarketer, all show a direct correlation between the presence of smart speakers, and people using them to buy things. For instance, Voicebot’s research showed a 40.2 percent rise in smart speaker ownership in the U.S. 2018, to 66.4 million households, and the percentage of consumers who have tried to buy anything by voice has risen to around 20 percent.

That people want to buy cheaper goods by voice also matches earlier surveys. Voicebot’s research put household goods at the top for what people want to buy, followed by groceries. Food is also at or near the top of the SUMO and other surveys.

Some companies are experimenting with getting more involved in selling by voice. Amazon is integrating its Whole Foods subsidiary into being available for voice shopping using the Alexa voice assistant, while Walmart is testing direct food purchase and delivery via Google Assistant. The final shape of voice shopping is far from complete, but it looks like it will be a while before people ask their voice assistant to complete purchases of higher-priced items.