Voice Commerce

Privacy Concerns are Limiting Voice Commerce: Survey

Voice commerce has decreased dramatically in the last year, according to the new Reimagining Commerce report from Episerver. Only 7% of digital shoppers have used voice assistants to make multiple purchases a month, compared to 17% last year.

Personal and Anonymous Simultaneously

The company’s fourth annual survey on people’s attitudes regarding online shopping gathered data from more than 4,000 people. Episerver asked online shoppers from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and Sweden to share their experiences and what they want to see in the future. The dip in voice purchasing in the survey extends to research as well. Last year, 22% of respondents said they used voice-assisted devices multiple times a month to look into potential purchases numerous times a month. This year, it was only 8%.

The biggest reason for the drop appears to be customer concerns about privacy and security, which is reflected in the survey’s other statistics as well. There are competing desires for consumers who want a shopping experience as convenient as possible, yet don’t want to give up any personal information. More than half of digital shoppers want companies to make their online anonymity a higher priority. At the same time, 61% say they want personalization to be a part of their shopping experience, and around a quarter of respondents said they had gone back to a retail website as a result of targeted ads from a previous visit to the site. Nonetheless, 33% of respondents cited a lack of security as the reason they won’t make purchases in the future using voice assistants. That matches with other surveys, which have found similar anxieties about data and privacy limiting people’s willingness to buy and use devices with voice assistants.

“Companies are facing a digital experience paradox,” Episerver CEO Alex Atzberger said in a statement. “Digital is a necessity to compete, but it’s getting more difficult and expensive to compete on digital alone as the golden standard for digital experience isn’t right for every company and customer, and yet the requirements keep increasing. We’ve been sold on experience, but hindsight is 20/20. Understanding what customers want, giving them control over how and where their data is used, and leading them to the next best content and action is how retailers ultimately solve for these contradictions.”

Voice Commerce Optimism

Episerver’s survey isn’t comprehensive when it comes to voice commerce, as the emphasis on multiple purchases a month likely doesn’t tell the whole story. Other studies paint a picture of voice commerce as still very much in its beginning stages, with people experimenting with it occasionally instead of making it a regular part of their shopping routine. For instance, market data aggregator eMarketer upped its prediction about how many Americans would shop by smart speaker in 2019 from 22.7 million to 31 million in light of growing interest, but that didn’t encompass multiple purchases a month. Voicebot’s survey on smart speaker owners in the U.S. reported that 26.1% of smart speaker owners tried at least once to buy something by voice as of January 2019. That’s about 6.8% of U.S. adults at the time of the survey. Just 3.9% saying they had become monthly voice shoppers.

On the other hand, while voice commerce may not be near the point where people buy by voice many times a month, that could be where it ends up, based on data about what people buy with voice. Multiple surveys from different sources have consistently found that groceries and household goods are what people are most likely to buy with a voice assistant. In other words, the kind of shopping that is done more than once a month.


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