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Alexa to dominate the voice assistants?
As mentioned in my last post – voice search is here to stay and voice assistants will only continue to improve. Voice assistants will fundamentally change the way we interact with search engines into the future. For those that work in any kind of search marketing discipline, 2018 and beyond will be an environment where search strategies will have to seriously shift. Strategies will have to take voice search into consideration as an integral part of the strategy and no longer considered just a tech novelty.

The Threat to Google
Amazon launched in Australia on the 5th of December and a majority of the focus has been on what impact this would have on Australian retailers and the e-commerce industry.  There will undoubtedly be some sort of long-term effect on these industries, especially as the Amazon platform develops, partnerships with sellers increase and the product catalogue deepens. However, I think most of the biggest movements will be Amazon’s ongoing effects on Google and Bing. If you look towards the US e-commerce market, Amazon is forever increasing its market share. Amazon has also continued to diversify its offering, not simply just books and ice cube moulds but now Amazon offers furniture and fashion where they compete with the likes of Walmart and Macy’s. Fortune magazine predicts Amazon will make up 50% of all US e-commerce by 2021 (Rao, 2016). As with most tech from the US, although delayed, it eventually spills over into the Australian market. Amazon’s ever-growing presence also includes Alexa and this is the key advantage they currently have over Google in the e-commerce space.

If we fast forward to 2021, what is realistic for us to expect from Amazon and Alexa? Personally, I predict intelligent, conversational dialogue with your voice assistant that will guide customers through a full shopping experience, while utilising the ability to up-sell customers corresponding items from the Amazon catalogue. Customers may even be able to augment these items with the Amazon Echo Look. Far-fetched? Maybe. But I don’t think so. Just take a look at the services Amazon currently offers in the US with Amazon Dash. Amazon Dash allows brands to partner directly with Amazon by adding a physical button or auto-detection to order through Amazon when a product at home, like detergent is running low. Prime Pantry is another example of this full-service approach from Amazon. Prime Pantry is an offshoot of Amazon Prime where members can order everyday household food items without the need for a trip to Costco. Additionally, with Prime, you’ll usually receive the items within 24 hours. Prime Wardrobe is an additional Prime service, where you can get same-day delivery of clothing and have one week to see if it fits and send it back free of charge if it’s not right.

These platforms are designed for convenience and great user experiences. Paired with the growing use of voice assistants, these shopping experiences are increasingly linked.  Amazon also currently presents special offers to those shopping through Alexa’s “Voice Shopping Special offers”. This move clearly demonstrates the push for users to shift wholly to their Alexa platform when interacting with Amazon’s multiple shopping experiences.

Currently, Google does not have a comparable model. While Google Home has been increasing in popularity, there is no shopping functionality like Amazon’s.

Trust in your assistant
Voice search and assistants are still new. The tech is not problem free and in Australia, there is a definitive lag between the US and Europe. However, the key is the trust in your assistant and this trust is something that technology can only improve.  It is for this reason that Amazon is building a personal assistant eco-system that no other tech giant can compete within Australia (Baidu’s Vivi assistant is a different story).

While Google is making developments to actively compete with Amazon, they will have to innovate incredibly quickly to find ways to advertise to their audience. Traditionally, Google has capitalised with a search on a conventional screen. How to tap into an audience that is increasingly more comfortable and likely to use voice search is key for Google.

Amazon is a clear front-runner in the voice assistant race. With the introduction of the Alexa personal assistant, Prime Wardrobe, Pantry and Amazon Dash, Amazon has a significant advantage over the nearest competitor. While many have focused on the impact Amazon will have on Australian retailers, I believe the focus is off. The focus needs to shift. Advertising revenue will inevitably slow. With automated purchases and Amazon’s Alexa choosing its lowest priced good for your home, how will businesses combat this? How will Google combat the current domination that Amazon has over the market?

In pt. III of this series, I will explore what brands can learn from previous attempts to capitalise on voice search, what to avoid and what brands are actually doing it right.

Author: Daniel Tobin, National Experience Director









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