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Expert opinion

Voice is the new frontier in commerce

Tuesday 2 October 2018 | 09:00 AM CET

Karen Pepper, Amazon Pay “As voice commerce moves to the mainstage, some of the most innovative brands are already identifying the right payment solutions for their customers”

Imagine purchasing a train ticket, a flower bouquet, or your groceries – simply by asking your voice assistant. No need to pull out your wallet. No need to enter any credit card or address information. You just tell your voice assistant to place an order and, voilà, it’s done. The ability to do that is already here, and it’s poised to change the face of commerce.

As businesses look for the latest trends and developments, voice represents the next major wave in commerce, and the reason for this is simple: as our lives become increasingly digital, customers have come to expect a seamless experience – and voice offers an ultra-intuitive way to purchase goods and services.

A new set of expectations

Today, our digital world is rapidly evolving, and consumer expectations are rising along with it. Digital technology is already pervasive, powerful, and growing – and it’s increasingly guiding how we shop. In Europe, digital assets are expected to influence 54% of all European retail sales by 2021, according to Forrester Research.

As more people embrace digital technology for their purchases, their expectations are increasing. Consumers expect today’s companies to be accessible all the time, wherever they are. They expect the engagement to be customised – with more selection and value. And they expect consistency and convenience. Moreover, trust is becoming increasingly paramount. Today, 90% of shoppers in Germany, the UK, France and Italy say trust is the most important factor in determining their purchasing decisions.

Customers are clear about what they expect. Now, it’s up to us to adapt. Those who will be able to deliver innovative customer experiences will most likely reap the rewards. As Forrester Research concluded, customer experience is a company’s greatest potential source of competitive advantage. 

Conversely, companies that fail to adapt will possibly suffer both short-term and long-term consequences. Interestingly, 73% of customers are likely to switch brands if the experience is poor. And in 2017 alone, lack of personalisation and low consumer trust cost businesses a whopping GBP 571 billion.

The most intuitive medium yet

Voice represents a new opportunity for consumers and brands alike to redefine the way people research and purchase products. There’s no need to use a computer or learn a device. All that’s required is human speech. Indeed, voice is “the first medium that does not require the user to learn a new way of doing things”.

With the rapid adoption of voice for multiple retail scenarios, commerce is moving to the next frontier – and Amazon Pay is helping businesses adapt to the expectations of today’s connected shoppers. Amazon Pay extends to thousands of websites around the world the experience that Amazon customers have come to enjoy and trust on Amazon websites. The alternative payment solution makes it easy for hundreds of millions of shoppers to make purchases online with the information already stored in their Amazon account. Our premise is to help people discover whatever they love, wherever they find it, by making Amazon innovations available to third-party merchants. To accomplish that, we recently released Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills in the US, with future availability in the EU, allowing merchants to sell goods and services using Alexa’s simple voice purchasing flow.

With Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills, shoppers don’t need to leave the voice experience to enter payment information like credit card details or a shipping address when making a purchase. Instead, Amazon Pay brings the trust and simplicity of Amazon’s checkout experience to the merchant’s voice shopping experience. The result is a seamless and convenient checkout experience.

An ultra-convenient purchasing experience

Forward-looking companies are already implementing Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills, by applying this innovation in their industry to offer simple voice purchasing. For example, 1800 Flowers, a US based company, is seeing a positive impact from this seamless purchase experience. After adding Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills, this floral and gourmet retailer increased the number of new and repeat customers who place orders through their Alexa skill.

Likewise, Virgin Trains in the UK recently became the first travel company to offer ticket purchases through Alexa, making it convenient for its customers to buy train tickets. As Giulio Montemagno, Director of Amazon Pay EU, put it when Virgin Trains was launched back in May 2018: “This is a first-of-a-kind service that will make it easier than ever to find and book the ticket you want, even when you’re busy doing something else—all you need to do is ask Alexa.”

As voice commerce moves to the mainstage, some of the most innovative brands are already identifying the right payment solutions for their customers. By embracing voice commerce and integrating a payment solution like Amazon Pay, today’s merchants can take customer convenience to the next level, exceeding customer expectations in an age where personalised, seamless experiences are what makes the difference.

To learn more, visit our Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills webpage.

About Karen Pepper

Karen Pepper is responsible for leading Amazon’s payment services for third party merchants in the UK. A 15-year veteran of the payments and startup industries, Karen was most recently named Global Head of Alliance Banks at JP Morgan and previously held executive positions at American Express, as well as at her own multi-million pound startup in the health and fitness sector.

About Amazon Pay

Amazon Pay makes it easy for millions of Amazon customers to login and pay on third party websites using the payment and shipping information stored in their Amazon accounts. Amazon Pay can help merchants add new customers, increase sales and turn casual browsers into buyers. It’s fast, easy, and trusted – leverage the Amazon brand to grow your business.

This editorial was first published in our Payment Methods Report 2018 – Innovations in the Way We Pay. The Payment Methods Report 2018 presents the key trends and developments in global and regional payment methods by highlighting the innovation, challenges, and developments in the use of the most important payment methods across geographies and verticals.

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