V-Commerce: Giving a Voice to Consumers

hand holding an iphone utilizing siri

Before we delve into what V-commerce is, and how important it will be for both business and consumer, let’s examine the rapid pace in which the way of doing business has changed. E-commerce is moving at break-neck speed, and if you aren’t ready the result could be catastrophic for your business.

Technology waits for no one.

In the late 1990s, due to E-commerce, there were huge changes in the way we shopped and did business. It revolutionized the way people consume goods and services in such a way that many large companies that thought they were in control — collapsed. In hindsight, not only did these companies lack control, but they could no longer keep pace with or know their market. Consumers, when faced with the option of buying their products or similar products for less, voted with their wallets.

As seems to be the way of the world, companies that have adapted to the ever-changing landscape have survived — and in some cases prospered. Unfortunately for some, they took the turn too late. But for every company that has imploded, new ones have noticed the hole in the market and seized their place. Netflix, one of my favorite companies, is a prime example. They saw an opportunity in streaming movies and tv shows online, while the big players were telling themselves that they will be fine selling VHS and DVDs in strip malls. To think consumers will continue to use your service without evolving is incredibly short-sighted; now Netflix is a leader in the entertainment market, and strip malls everywhere contain the weather-worn remnants of where Blockbuster’s ticket logo once rested.

blockbuster location, going out of business

Then there was Mobile-commerce, which allowed customers to buy directly from their phone. And given the rate at which mobile search is rising, not to mention you can’t throw a paperweight/old Blackberry down the street without hitting several people on their smartphones, mobile-commerce is certainly here to stay. The introduction by Apple and Android of Apple Pay and Google Pay means many consumers now have their “wallet” in their phones. To keep up, or risk becoming the next Blockbuster, merchants are being forced to adapt their site for mobile devices. This has led to the rise of “showrooming”, in which consumers are given an opportunity to try products in store and, after a few clicks, buy online (sometimes for less).

Competition online is fierce, and while it is essential for a business to have a plan to deal with said competition, they also need to be capable of adapting on the fly. Customers adapt very quickly to what is in their best interests, not the best interests of a large company (shocking, I know). In the past 20 years, the world of commerce has undergone two major waves of disruptive innovation, between E-commerce and M-commerce, and a third wave is rolling in.

That wave has arrived, and it’s time to wake up!

Just like that, in the time it took you to get here from the last sentence, V-commerce, or voice commerce, has arrived. You’ve probably used Siri on your iPhone, or heard about Amazon’s Echo or Google Home. If you use a Microsoft computer, you’ve probably experienced Cortana. Digital personal assistants, once relegated to the realm of science fiction, are becoming increasingly common. In the case of Amazon’s Echo, it’s a speaker that connects to a personal assistant application named Alexa which can do everything from set timers and alarms, to adjust your lighting, to shop (on Amazon, of course). And we’re just scratching the surface here. Just promise us you won’t go all Joaquin Phoenix and fall in love with Her. The goal of all this? Simplifying our lives by allowing us to generate actions via voice commands. This is likely to stretch to all areas of our lives, in fact we’ve already seen examples of this with technology like Ford’s Sync system.

How will it change the way we purchase online?

V-commerce has a real possibility to revolutionize commerce — it makes buying possible without movement or manipulation, simply by placing a voice command. It is a prime example of technology making our lives easier. And while we as the consumer come out as the winners in this scenario, it is important as a business to consider how this will affect you. Not if it will affect you, but when, since as the technology becomes more ubiquitous, businesses will need to know how to harness it. This technology maximizes the management of users’ time and movements, and that type of convenience is one that people will reach for again and again. Not to mention that due to the interconnectedness our devices provide, we are one step closer to having to do that much less. Imagine asking Alexa for a recipe, and having her cross reference the ingredients with what you have in the fridge. Who knows, maybe even placing an order for you.

smart refrigerator

What are the opportunities for businesses?

  • This provides a new playground for businesses to make life easier for their customers, and climb faster than their competitors.
  • It will provide a new way to engage customers; it will be easier to renew an order for a product that has already been purchased, hence the importance of being ready as soon as possible.
  • A new way for a business to personalize the shopping experience for its customers, while keeping in mind and respecting the limits of a person’s privacy.
  • A new way to offer a better experience to your customers — for both B2C and B2B companies.
  • It will provide new skill sets and opportunities to promote cross selling and upselling.

It’s important to understand that systems like Echo, Google Home, and Siri, among others, are not just in place for commerce. With the ability to answer questions, the importance of your website’s content has never been greater. If you are able to answer a question properly and succinctly, your site will receive more hits via voice search which, is only on the rise. These systems could also be used for inventory purposes; a simple voice search could tell a customer if their size is in stock. Combine this with the concept of showrooming, and a business would have the opportunity to either reduce the space needed by keeping only one size of a model on the floor, or the opportunity to carry a greater variety of stock.

V-commerce is a new and exciting technology with great possibilities; this also means that there is a large amount of work that needs to be done in regards to strategy. Scripts and programmed skills are only a couple pieces of the puzzle that is V-commerce moving forward.

The future is now.  

While v-commerce is still in its infancy, it is moving forward very quickly. And ready or not, it will become a huge part of the business landscape in no time. Would you like to be in the parade, or watching it pass by? As mentioned above, voice commands have already crept into the automotive world, and are primed to play a larger role. If you’d like to know more about V-commerce, or how your business can adapt and integrate it, don’t hesitate to contact us. Strathcom Media prides itself on being on the cutting edge of all things digital and business related.

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