E-commerce is expanding: it is becoming widespread in the food industry and will soon be using voice. GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon) are currently implementing their strategies, combining investments and alliances with mass distribution, through the offer of virtual assistants.
The advent of voice assistants
“Hey Siri, what does the future look like?” According to GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon), the future cannot be seen, but it can be heard! Voice interfaces are indeed becoming more widespread. Smartphones are now equipped with Siri, Google Now or Bixby voice assistants. They respond to the voice of their owners and are able to do simple searches on the Internet.
These voice assistants are also appearing in homes in the form of connected speakers. A few months ago, Amazon, Apple and Google announced the release of their respective connected speakers: Amazon Echo, HomePod and Google Home.
“Voice” searches are thus taking over from written searches: 65% of smartphone users use these voice assistants and exploit their speed (source: frenchweb).
These virtual butlers go beyond searching the Internet. These services combine two things that users are familiar with: e-commerce and oral communication. They are thus paving the way for Voice Commerce.
The most important player in this sector is probably Amazon. With over 11 million Echo speakers sold worldwide before January 2017, they have the biggest footprint. In France, only the Google Home speaker is available. It allows the user to make online purchases, obtain information about the weather, order a taxi or remotely manage connected objects.
Beyond serving as a link between man and machine, the CEO of Google Sundar Pichai explained, we are witnessing a fundamental shift in computing: the transition from the era of mobile to the era of artificial intelligence. This involves imagining products that allow a more natural and fluid interaction with the technology.
The conquest of the food market is at stake
Behind these speakers, a major challenge is emerging: the conquest of the gigantic food market. In the summer of 2017, the various players implemented a number of strategies.
First of all, the online retail giant, Amazon. Amazon (43% of e-commerce in the United States according to Slice Intelligence) has just made a sensational entry into the food retail market. Last June, the group acquired the American distributor Whole Foods. This acquisition, its first major foray into physical distribution, is the first step in the distribution of food products by the e-commerce leader.
In response to Amazon, the search engine Google and the global distribution leader Wallmart have announced an alliance. The objective is clear: to gain market share in the online distribution of consumer goods. Indeed, from September, the two giants will market hundreds of thousands of items on Google Express and will take advantage of the 4,700 stores operated by Wallmart.
In this context, Orange announced on 20 April the launch of its connected speaker: Djingo. The operator’s virtual butler will also be able to make purchases and interact using voice, but only in the Orange universe (VOD, sending text messages). In the long run, the operator’s ambition is not to become a v-commerce player but rather to bring its advisors into the home. This connected speaker will serve as an Orange Bank advisor (2, 3).
Thus, the future of e-commerce will undoubtedly involve its users’ voices, and will make it possible to order technology, cultural as well as food products.