Sberbank’s Salute Voice Assistant Will Have Exclusive Access to New Collection of Pepsico and Unilever Beverages
Russian financial and now tech giant Sberbank’s virtual assistant Salute will be the only source of a new collection of beverages from brands owned by Unilever and Pepsico. Salute users will be able to order the uniquely flavored drinks via e-commerce platform Samokat and nowhere else, potentially sparking new interest in voice commerce in the country.
Thirsty for Voice Commerce
Sber and its partners announced the plan at this year’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), signing an agreement to officially begin the project. To begin with, eight beverages will be added to Samokat’s menu, including J7 mango nectar and a Lipton sage and rosemary herbal drink. The new drinks will only be visible to those ordering from Samokat with Salute through SberBank’s smart speaker, smart display, smart TV, or mobile app. The idea is to lure people into trying out Salute because they want access to the products they can’t get any other way. Presumably, Sber and its partners hope the experience of buying and consuming the exclusive products is positive enough to lead to Salute being a habitual tool for buying things.
“The e-commerce channel has seen tremendous growth recently. That is why a partnership with Samokat and Sber, which has created a convenient and client-focused ecosystem, is such an important event. We believe that our collaboration with these key players in the field will result in a convenient service that consumers will see the value of,” PepsiCo Russia, president David Manzini said. “We have picked the J7 brand for this joint pilot project for a reason. J7 is an iconic brand. It was also the first packaged juice that we started selling in Russia in the early 90s, launching the development of this drink category in the country. It was a breakthrough comparable to what we see in e-commerce today. It is therefore symbolic that J7 should be chosen to launch our partnership.”
Russian companies have approached voice tech in a way both familiar and alien to those used to the models developed by Amazon, Google, Apple, and other American companies. The same goes for the experiments the Russian voice AI developers have taken to social audio platforms like Clubhouse, including public job interviews and digital tech conferences. Sber choosing to push try out this voice commerce idea fits with the breakneck pace the company has taken since late last year when it launched the SberPortal smart display and the SberBox TV set-top streaming device simultaneously with Salute. The voice assistant, which arrived with three distinct voices and personalities, has already interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin at an AI conference hosted by Sber, where it also launched Russia’s first Artificial Intelligence Institute in Moscow. Trying to revolutionize voice commerce after cramming that much and more into six months seems almost inevitable and itself only the beginning for Sber’s e-commerce ambitions.
“This is excellent news both for our ecosystem’s customers and for our partners, as they are essentially gaining access to the Sber ecosystem’s audience of over 100 million users, including the 65 million active users of the SberBank Online app,” Sberbank executive board first deputy chairman Lev Khasis said in a statement. “This is a wonderful opportunity to receive quick and quality feedback from users.”