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Payments Through Voice-Controlled Devices Begin To Attract Consumers, Survey Finds
July 18, 2017

By Jim Daly

Some 19% of consumers participating in a recent survey said they have made a product purchase through Amazon.com Inc.’s Echo or a similar voice-controlled device within the past year.

Image Credit: Walker Sands

Jordan: “I definitely would say 19% was a pretty high number.”

The finding is noted in the Future of Retail 2017 report from Chicago-based Walker Sands Communications, a digital marketing services and public-relations firm. Walker Sands generated the report, its fourth annual retail study, from a March national online survey of 1,622 consumers about their shopping habits and use of technology.

So-called voice-controlled commerce emerged after Seattle-based Amazon unveiled Echo in 2014. The speaker device, which accesses the Internet and uses artificial intelligence, includes the computerized voice Alexa. A total of 24% of the surveyed consumers said they owned an Amazon Echo (16%) or similar device such as Google Home (6%), and another 20% said they plan to buy one within a year.

The Walker Sands survey found that two-thirds of consumers have little or no interest in purchases via voice-controlled devices: 48% of respondents claimed they were not at all likely to make such a purchase in the next year, and another 19% said they were somewhat unlikely. But 14% described themselves as very likely to make a voice-controlled-device purchase, and 19% said somewhat likely.

The fact that nearly one in five of the respondents have made a purchase through voice-controlled devices indicates that many consumers are interested in making payments through other channels than just desktop and laptop computers, or smart phones, according to Walker Sands.

“I definitely would say 19% was a pretty high number,” Erin Jordan, account director at Walker Sands, tells Digital Transactions News. “Voice commerce has really taken off in the past couple of months.”

Voice commerce spares the consumer of typing in payment account details; Echo typically enables a purchase by pulling the buyer’s stored Amazon payment-account data.

As with e-commerce and more recently mobile commerce, however, many consumers have security and privacy worries about nascent voice-controlled payment systems. Asked about their concerns, 38% of respondents cited security. Next was privacy, cited by 33%. Close behind was lack of visuals, 31%, and uncertainty about price and payment, 29%. Twenty-four percent of respondents cited difficulty of voice interactions.

This year’s study was the first in which Walker Sands asked about voice-controlled devices. The results reflect earlier consumer concerns about mobile payments, according to Jordan. “Security continues to be the No. 1 barrier,” she says.

Other concerns included the inability to shop across products and shallow product information, both cited by 22% of respondents, and lack of customer service, 16%.

The ease of shopping and payment via voice-controlled devices eventually might overcome those concerns. “I think it just offers a lot more convenience,” Jordan says. The report notes that Amazon recently introduced Echo Show, which offers real-time video and 360-degree views.

Walker Sands says the survey has a 2.44% margin of error at the 95% confidence level.

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