Cyber 5 and Voice Shopping: The Next Evolution of Seasonal Spending

This blog post is part of our 2017 Holiday Planning series. Be sure to check back often or, better yet, subscribe to the blog to stay updated with this year’s latest holiday trends, tips, best practices, reports and more!

Once upon a time, there was Black Friday. The real kind, when deal-seekers queued up in predawn hours for a chance to take part in a one-day frenzy of sales promotions. Then came Cyber Monday, and in-store holiday shopping began to shift slowly to online storefronts.

Fast forward to 2017, and deals are no longer limited to strict 24-hour periods. Some brands and retailers extended their offers across the full Cyber Five stretch; others will be offering specials all season long. In stark contrast to the days of long lines and cash register battles, today’s consumers can conveniently click, tap and swipe their ways to the season’s best promotions at any time, from any device.

Or they could just ask for them.

As online holiday spending continues to evolve, voice-assisted shopping is emerging as the next stage of consumer-centered selling strategies.

The Trend Toward Voice Shopping

The voice commerce battle is officially on.

In October, Walmart announced it was teaming up with Google to bring personalized voice shopping to its customers through the Google Home Mini — an offer that came with the promise of $25 off a Walmart order for purchasing the $49 device. Then in early November, Best Buy began making its Deal of the Day products available for purchase via Amazon Alexa devices.

While the Walmart-Google collaboration hinted at where the industry is headed, the unlikely Best Buy-Amazon partnership solidified it. (Amazon has often been cited as one of Best Buy’s biggest rivals; the electronics retailer lost $1 billion in value when Amazon launched a Geek Squad competitor in July.)

Walmart and Best Buy aren’t the only big-box retailers jumping on the voice commerce trend. Target and Home Depot have both joined the voice-shopping fray, and others are likely to follow. According to research from Linc, 44% of retailers have plans to use a conversational commerce interface. And the Consumer Technology Association has said that voice recognition technology is set to hit millions of homes and generate more than a billion dollars in revenue.

Cyber 5 and Voice Shopping

There’s a reason so many brands and retailers are seriously considering their options for voice-assisted shopping: As consumers become increasingly comfortable with smart speakers like Google’s Home and Amazon’s Echo, digital assistants will likely play an increasing role in their paths to purchase — particularly as shoppers are given more voice-assisted options for placing orders and tracking shipments.

Already this season, the experimentation has begun. Amazon’s Alexa is channeling Oprah Winfrey to help fans shop the celebrity’s favorite things. Over at Walmart.com, detailed voice shopping FAQs help consumers sync shopping accounts to Google Home.

Meanwhile, 42% of smart-speaker owners have told NPR and Edison Research that these devices are now “essential” to their everyday lives. Sixty-five percent say they wouldn’t want to go back to their lives before getting one.

Case in point: Topping Amazon’s best-selling items list for both Black Friday and Cyber Monday? The Echo Dot 2nd Generation.

What’s next for voice commerce?

This year’s Cyber 5 has been full of important lessons for retailers. Among them is some irrefutable evidence that voice-enabled households are on the rise. Come January, millions more consumers will be building new habits and expectations based around their interactions with these digital assistants.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on this trend, so be sure to stay tuned to the ChannelAdvisor blog for future updates. Or, better yet, subscribe to the blog and newsletter for updates on the latest news.

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