Insights

It Turns Out Nobody Is Shopping With Alexa — Here’s Why

Alexa-not-used-for-shopping

According to a new report from The Information citing “two people briefed on the company’s internal figures,” only 2% of Amazon customers have used Alexa to shop so far this year. Among customers that have made a purchase using Amazon’s voice assistant, a reported 90% of them never did it again. As voice assistants continue to make headlines and gain traction, why are so few people shopping with Alexa?

Millions of people use Alexa… for other things

Amazon has sold a lot of Alexa-enabled products, which are primarily Amazon’s own line of Echo devices. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a press release that the company has sold “tens of millions” of Alexa-enabled devices, which sources estimate is around 50 million. People use their voice assistants all the time, primarily to do things like play music, ask for the weather, answer basic questions, and control smart home devices. According to The Information, around 20% of Alexa users will engage with Alexa regarding shopping, asking questions like “what are my deals” and “where is my stuff,” tracking orders made on the same Amazon account, but most likely another device.

Shoppers want control

Two of the top reasons people love shopping on Amazon are the vast selection of products available to them and the ability to read reviews. When shopping with voice, “Amazon’s Choice” products are suggested to customers 59% of the time, which are products Amazon selects based on value, quality, and customer satisfaction. Alexa reads the name of the product, tells the user the star count, and asks for a decision. If the shopper says “no,” Alexa will suggest one more product before giving up. Without being able to sift through selections and read reviews, customers feel much less comfortable making a purchase decision.

Voice restricts content

Amazon is heavily utilized as a discovery and education platform — 87% of shoppers visit Amazon for holiday product research, citing product reviews, ratings, and price comparison as their top reasons. This even happens when customers are at a brick-and-mortar store — Retail Dive claims that 58% look up product information on their smartphones while shopping in-store.

A large reason for this is content — people naturally feel more comfortable buying something if they feel like they know exactly what they’re getting. With voice search, customers (with the exception of Echo Show and Echo Spot users) aren’t even seeing a photograph of the product, let alone in-depth descriptions and enhanced brand content. This might be okay for reordering household staples like paper towels or batteries, but as far as making an informed purchase decision goes, voice shopping leaves a lot to be desired.

It’s just too soon

We’re all still getting used to voice. It’s a brand-new medium, particularly something that can be as in-depth as a purchase decision. Think about shopping with your mobile phone: a handful of years ago, finding a product, reading reviews, and deciding to make a purchase was nearly unheard of. As time moves on, it’s becoming the norm.

Statista, Global mobile retail commerce revenue from 2012 to 2018 (in billion U.S. dollars)

According to Bloomreach, 76% of consumers now are comfortable shopping on their mobile devices, with 90% of them reporting that they’ve made at least one purchase on a smartphone. If we can learn anything from the rapid growth of mobile commerce, it’s that voice-based shopping has a chance in the not-too-distant future.

What now?

While voice shopping is still in the early adoption phase, brands have an opportunity to get ahead of the curve. Based on the current state of the market, the best Alexa strategy for brands is to have a great Amazon strategy to begin with, as Amazon rewards brands, products, and sellers with a proven history of success.

Read Alexa: The Voice of Generations To Come for more.