Amazon thinks of the future and doesn’t start by looking at what is changing, but at what is going to be constant.
If companies have a good understanding of that when it comes to the need of the consumer, they have much higher chances of feeding the target. In the context of connected commerce, there are a few things that should be retained:
- Consumers will never want less trust
- They will never want less convenience
- They will never want less value
Companies have to deliver more trust, convenience and value, and they’ll probably have a head start versus thinking about what is changing in the technology and what they can do with it.
The amount of time we now spend interacting with device is important. In 2018, the average US adult spent 11h06 in front of screens (PC, TV, smartphone). When you spend most of your waking hours at a screen, then you become the “homo mediaticus”. This is the beginning of something profoundly new when it comes to how a service provider or a merchant will interact with consumers.
Around the world, 4 billion people are connected to Internet. Most of them do that through mobile phone and they are starting to transact on mobile phone, online, and interacting with providers of information in ways that influence the commerce they do in the physical space. In 2017, roughly 10% of retail commerce was done online, and it’s expected to grow to 17,5M in 2021. In 2016, 56% of dollars spent in physical retail stores were first influenced by digital activity and it must be taken in account.
At the same time, trust is coming down (with institutions, medias, tech companies and financial services companies). Consumers are overwhelmed by the amount of products, medias and information thrown at them. They are concerned by the learning phase that they have with those devices.
While consumption of mobile media is increasing and represents currently 2/3 of the consumption of digital media, during the second quarter of 2017 in the US, 51% of consumers have downloaded 0 new app and, in the UK, 64%. So, there’s a certain fatigue with the set-up solutions and with the screen people are watching 11h per day. Amazon considers it as a big opportunity.
Voice offers a natural interface. You don’t have to download or open apps, it’s in the moment, you just speak and eventually you would associate voice and gesture. It’s fundamentally related to commerce, which is essentially a human activity.
What retailers really want to have is a conversation with the customer to understand what he wants. Plenty of data shows the importance of experience of the costumer when they select the company they interact with, as more as important as the product they have in mind.
When you bring voice and intelligence together, you don’t just have a simple interface, you have the ability to interact with the consumers in the moment on their terms. Because of the focus on smartphones for the last ten years, commerce and payment have often become bound by the mobile and many people forget to think outside of it.
When you look at the opportunities afforded by connected devices and by the ability to interact in a natural way, why then would you limit yourself to the mobile? Why don’t you interact with the consumer at the time and the place they chose and which is the most natural for them? You need to understand voice, context, the person and the language, meaning not just the song, but also the meaning of it. This is where AI plays an important role.
Alexa has been designed with the idea of what could happen if consumers were not using a screen. How would they interact with this service while washing the dishes? They created a technology for waking the world and for far field voice recognition. They also developed several applications that aren’t limited to the home, but also for the car or public spaces.
With voice, it’s not a voice but an AI behind it. You need to understand context and language. For example, the word “play” is ambiguous. When you say, “play Star Wars”, it could be about a movie, a soundtrack, a video game or a TV show. The answer to what this “play” means is a function of who the user is. With AI, you can understand context, the person and therefore deliver the type of conversational commerce that many people aspire for.
Trust is a barrier to innovation because it’s fundamental to it. If people don’t trust the technology that the company is providing to them, they won’t acquire the product and they’ll also talk about it into their network. When you know word of mouth is currently the most trusted information for consumers, you understand the importance of building trust in order to build commerce and modern connected environment.
Trust is a combination of rational thinking, experience, competency of the provider, transparency on what you do, emotional situation, integrity and empathy. It takes long to build it, but it’s fast to destroy it. Once you have that in place, you can start to re-think commerce.
During the last 10 years, the focus was a lot on screens and mobiles, speed, convenience and security. Those are necessary but not enough, because consumers also need trust, natural interaction and intelligence in the interaction. With Alexa, Amazon is at the beginning of a long journey: the introduction of voice assistants introduces the awakening of an important change in commerce and industry.
Speaker: Patrick GAUTHIER, AMAZON PAY