New technology is ready to make the internet as seamless as possible and transform the way we work, live and play. The next phase of digital disruption is ‘invisible technology’, making the way that consumers get information and buy products as integrated into our daily lives as possible.


Voice assistants like Alexa, Siri and Cortana can help consumers function in hands-free and even eyes-free situations. A good example of this is in an application like cooking. As these devices become part of everyone’s kitchen, they have the potential to be an ‘extra hand’, telling consumers recipes, reminding consumers when to stir the dish and even suggesting a wine pairing for the meal.

This presents a big opportunity for food retailers. We are already seeing voice-activated grocery lists, which should see an end carrying around scrappy bits of paper and inevitably forgetting a crucial item. In fact, shopping by voice-activated assistant is expected to be a goldmine.  But it’s unlikely to be the kind of shopping that users already flock to the internet for. Most will still want to browse images and compare when purchasing electronics and luxury items.

But what about toilet paper, muesli and dish soap?

For these items most consumers will already know which brands they want and how much they are willing to pay, which will provide a huge opportunity for FMCGs brands that have traditionally been more difficult to sell online.

By leveraging loyalty program data and predictive personalisation technology, retailers can use voice assistants to serve up more relevant search results to notify shoppers of deals and special offers on products they’ve bought in the past and remind them of products they may have forgotten.

For example, imagine a scenario where you wake up and your voice assistant reminds you of a sale at your favourite clothing retailer or that you have unused rewards to use at your local supermarket.

Currently, Alexa enables users to set reminders to restock the essentials but in the future, brands will have the ability to take control and set purchase reminders on behalf of users.  If people can easily call out such items as they run out- and have them replaced in their next weekly delivery, would they bother to step foot in a brick-and-mortar grocery store again?

Perhaps.

But what’s likely, is that they’d do so less frequently. And big brands know this. Which is why Amazon and Google are racing to get into as many homes as possible as quickly as possible.

Online supermarket brand Ocado launched an app for Alexa earlier this year, that allowed consumers to add orders to their basket via voice commands. Currently, new orders can not be created via the app- Ocado says it’s intended for updating existing orders only- but other features allow you to find out which products are in season and get ideas for possible recipes.

And that’s not all. Voice assistants may prompt the disappearance of screens as we know them. Soon we’ll be able to speak to our favourite voice assistant on the go, meaning that we can make purchases in middle of tasks, for example- driving.

The next phase for retailers will be to tap into these ‘micro-moments’ and understand that voice-assisted shopping could become more impulsive than ever, as shopping slots in around our daily lives ‘as we think of it’. Shopping has never been so effortless. As marketers it means we must get better at weaving ourselves organically and authentically into the everyday life of our consumers.

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