Amazon Alexa, why aren't more people doing voice commerce?

Voice commerce still remains a small part of the e-commerce pie in the U.S. Should Amazon be worried?
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Voice commerce will total $2.1 billion in 2018, or 0.4 percent of the total e-commerce pie, according to eMarketer. Should Amazon be worried about Alexa as a shopping medium?

eMarketer's voice commerce stats are worth noting since Amazon's Alexa-powered devices and ecosystem are dominant in market share even though the research firm expects the e-commerce giant's market share to fall.

According to eMarketer:

Only a small number of people are using speakers for shopping. Voice commerce in 2018 will reach $2.10 billion, just 0.4% of US ecommerce sales. In fact, eMarketer has lowered its projections for smart speaker buyers and shoppers since its Q2 forecast. While more than one-quarter of users (27.0%) will actually make a purchase using a smart speaker next year, it falls below the nearly 31% previously projected.

You could take a glass half full take on eMarketer's voice shopping projections. Why? $2.1 billion is not a small number and when you consider nearly all of that sum probably goes to Amazon it's even more notable. The other smart speaker players--Google, Apple and Sonos--aren't likely to develop an e-commerce stream. Google will develop and advertising stream.

See: CNET smart speaker buying guide

The upshot is that it's early in the voice commerce game, but there are a few issues to ponder. 

  • First, it's hard to browse with a voice command system. In other words, you need to know exactly what you want. 
  • Amazon has offered sales and discounts if you shop with Alexa, but typically it's not enough to get you to try voice commerce.
  • User behavior changes take time and the technology and understanding isn't quite there yet. That'll change. 

According to eMarketer, people use smart speakers and services like Alexa for basic tasks and not shopping. The research firm does note that screen-based devices could change shopping behavior with smart speakers.


In addition, Amazon's smart speaker market share will drop below the two-thirds mark in 2019. eMarketer is projecting Echo will have 63.3 percent of the smart speaker market while Google Home will be 31 percent. Apple  HomePod and Sonos will drive the "other" category to 12 percent.

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Overall, 74.2 million people will use a smart speaker in 2019, up 15 percent from 2018. Some households already have Amazon and Google competing in the same home.  



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