TECHNOLOGY

Study: Retailers need to step up customer engagement for voice-enabled devices

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

For all the hype it has received, voice shopping is not being heavily leveraged by retailers — including online giant, Amazon.

That’s according to the “2017 Holiday Retail Analysis: Voice Shopping” report from Ugam, which analyzed Amazon Echo and Google Home Mini voice devices. After heavily promoting its Alexa-enabled devices heading into the holiday season, Amazon featured very few gift promotions for sale by voice, the report found. On Cyber Monday, Amazon offered only one out of its 5,000 holiday deals via voice.

According to data, Alexa deals were more competitive than Google Home. Google Home does not offer an equivalent to Amazon’s “Deal of the Day.” Meanwhile, when searching for Amazon Alexa Deals products on Google Home, it offered exact matches only 30% of the time. Google Home’s prices on those products were higher.

When analyzing the most shopped retailers via Google Home, Walmart and Target topped the list. Further, most of Amazon’s top competitors entered the voice commerce market by making offers via Google Home. Of those companies however, Walmart and Target featured the most matches for Amazon Alexa Deals.

When it comes to retailers most prepared for voice shopping, Best Buy takes the top spot. Further, Best Buy’s Alexa deals were discounted more deeply than Amazon’s.

For example, the average price difference between Best Buy’s Alexa Deals and BestBuy.com was 30%, compared to a 21% difference between Amazon Alexa and Amazon.com. Best Buy also offered more private label products by voice, as well as much more daily deal variety, while Amazon offered the same products throughout the period (November 16-28), the study said.

Despite electronics not being the top category in Amazon Alexa Deals, Philips topped the list of brands prominently featured by both Amazon and Best Buy via Alexa.

Cyber Monday was also the lowest price day for Amazon Alexa Deals, the study said.

“Voice shopping-enabled by devices, like Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home Mini, is the newest consumer touchpoint this holiday season,” said Mihir Kittur, co-founder and chief commercial officer at Ugam.

“However, analysis found that most retailers are still in the very early stages of leveraging this touchpoint,” Kittur said. “With the likelihood of over 25 million devices sold in 2017, voice is an area retailers and manufacturers will need to plan for and execute on.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Verizon: Online holiday shopping continues strong, driven by ‘a perfect storm’

BY Marianne Wilson

E-commerce activity spiked late last week and into the weekend as consumers were likely motivated by Free Shipping Friday and other promotional offers from retailers, according to the Holiday Retail Index by Verizon, which monitors daily traffic volume to the top 25 U.S.-based online retailers throughout the holiday shopping season.

Average daily e-commerce traffic volume to U.S.-based retailers was up 16% on Friday (Dec. 15) and 17% on Saturday (Dec. 16) from these same days last year, the report found.

“A perfect storm of last minute shopping, final standard shipping deadlines and great deals continued to drive strong digital commerce activity over the weekend,” said Michele Dupre, group VP of retail, hospitality and distribution for Verizon Enterprise Solutions. “Retailers need to pull out all of the stops ahead of Super Saturday for a strong finish.”

With the Christmas countdown clock ticking louder, the coming days for retailers will be critical for incentivizing consumers, including the lucrative procrastinator market, and converting interest to sales, according to Verizon.

“The race is now on and the next hurdle for retailers will be sustaining customer engagement while successfully managing inventory and logistics during the Christmas rush,” said Dupre. “Retailers will need to have tricks up their sleeves to best the competition.”

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TECHNOLOGY

Report reveals top gifts of holiday so far—and other buying trends

BY Marianne Wilson

Men’s apparel is making a strong showing this holiday season.

That’s according to Loop Commerce, whose GiftNow digital gifting service used by such retailers as Target, Saks Fifth Avenue, Coach, Macy’s, Banana Republic, and others. Men’s apparel, women’s handbags, and women’s apparel were the top three gifts so far this holiday season with 19%, 17% , and 15% of purchases through GiftNow platform within these categories, respectively.

The results showed a growing number of men are moving to digital gifting, with 46% of all transactions being completed by men, up from 38% for the same period last year. Women were still the primary gift receivers at 65% of sales, roughly the same as the same period last year.

The results were based on an analysis by Loop Commerce of GiftNow transactions completed between Black Friday through Dec. 9. In other key findings:

• Consumers Still Buying Gifts on Desktop, But Mobile Phone is Gaining Traction
This year’s gift buying data also showed continued preference by consumers to browse for gifts on their mobile devices such as tablet (17%) or mobile phone (56%) but make the purchase using their desktop. Roughly 54% of all GiftNow purchases were made using a desktop, versus 38% on mobile and 8% on tablet.

However, when compared to 67% of sales taking place on the desktop during the same period last year, and 69% in 2015, it is clear that mobile purchasing is picking up steam and numbers may be significantly different this time next year.

• More Men Buying Gift Online, But Spending Less
Men represented an 8% point increase of overall transactions compared to the same holiday period a year ago, moving from 38% to 46% of total), but they also spent less per gift this year according to GiftNow data. Compared to last year, men spent roughly 11% less this year on gifts versus last year. Women also spent 15% less per gift.

The data not surprising, however, as GiftNow became more mainstream in 2017, adding discount, department store, specialty shops and more to their list of previously luxury retail partners, which may have impacted year-over-year data comparisons. Consumers also seemed to be taking advantage of promotional offerings in their gift purchases.

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