Amazon Echo Plus is a smart speaker programmed with Amazon's artificial intelligence assistant app called Alexa to control home appliances such as TV and lights through human voiceAmazon Echo Plus at MID Base Tower Residence, Yokohama, Japan - 22 Nov 2017

According to Adobe Analytics’ latest figures on voice assistants, released Monday, more people are buying smart speakers and doing more things with it — including shopping.

In its “State of Voice Assistants” report, the company noted that — alongside typical activities, like streaming music (70 percent), getting a weather forecast (64 percent) and setting alarms and reminders (46 percent) — smart speaker owners also use their devices to shop, with as many as 30 percent shopping or ordering items on devices like Amazon Echo or Google Home.

When it comes to activities surrounding conversational commerce, the report drills down into some nuances: 47 percent conduct general product search and research, 43 percent create shopping lists and 32 percent do price comparisons. In essence, consumers use voice speakers to help them shop, even if the actual purchase happens on a phone or computer.

“The way we think about it is to encourage brands not to make the same mistake that a lot of them made in mobile the first time around,” said Colin Morris, director of product management for Adobe Analytics. “Everyone had an app in 2010 or 2012. And the business leaders who greenlit those apps thought they were going to have the same conversion rate or the same average revenue per user as a web site or a retail digital experience. And that never worked out, because it’s just a different medium.”

The comparison between the early days of mobile and the smart speaker landscape, which is still nascent, seems apt. The lesson here, Morris said, is to focus on experiences for now, not necessarily how many sales were made on the device.

“The investment should be thought of beyond just the ROI [return on investment] in that channel,” he added. “The value can be in downstream conversion elsewhere.”

Adobe has a front-row view of retail insights for some of the world’s largest retailers. Through products such as Experience Cloud and an array of large-scale clients across sectors, the company said it touches 80 percent of retail transactions in some form or another. The report is its most robust on the subject yet. The data covers more than 1,000 U.S. consumers and their usage of technologies like Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri and other assistants that have long been available on phones, tablets and on laptops. But, from Adobe’s perspective, the popularity of smart speakers is driving the trend forward.

In its findings, 71 percent said they use their smart speaker at least daily. Forty-four percent say they use it multiple times a day. And as many as 76 percent of smart speaker owners increased their usage in the last year.

Ownership figures are also growing. The firm noted a 14 percent uptick in the number of smart speaker owners between January and August, going from 28 percent to 32 percent of consumers. Adobe chalks it up to current owners either buying extra units for themselves or buying them as gifts. And after the coming holiday season, Adobe expects the numbers to go up significantly, reaching nearly 50 percent of consumers.

Voice shopping in the home may not be fully baked yet, but that doesn’t stop others from expanding it in new and sometimes surprising directions.

“I work with a lot of OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] on the car manufacturing side, and I work with their designers on the in-car experience,” Morris added. “They’re all looking to voice to figure out ways in which you’re going to be talking to your car more. And they also have their own e-commerce teams that are looking at ways to branch out and do better retail experiences within the car.

“Voice is not only here to stay, but it’s going to permeate to a lot of different hardware use cases that are going to wind up being cross-channel and in places that might not have been traditionally thought of before,” he said.

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