Marketers in Retail Shouldn’t Be Focused on Voice SEO in 2018

The retail publication, Chain Store Age, recently posted an article on why retailers need to invest in voice-enabled devices in order to improve customer engagement. In parallel, retail conferences are focusing on voice SEO as a talk track, helping marketers understand how to have their brand stand out from the rest when it comes to discoverability on an Amazon or Google voice enabled device.

The biggest problem with this strategy is that marketers are investing time and energy in a channel where their customers aren’t currently shopping today. Mobile conversions are poor, and customer retention is at an all-time low, as consumers are more than willing to jump to a competing brand after a sub-par shopping experience.

In 2018, there are three reasons marketers should invest in native voice search, as opposed to competing with Amazon and Google for space on their respective platforms.

Focus on where your customers are already shopping

Investing in a skill or command for a voice-enabled device might sound like an smart investment, given that 30 million devices are in circulation in the US alone. But as a retailer, you want to invest in where your customers are today, not in where they might be in the future.

With nearly 80% of content consumption coming from mobile devices, consumers are consistently struggling to find what they’re looking for when they want it. And retailers should be worried about this, seeing how 30% of global ecommerce sales will come from mobile devices this year, according to a recent report.

Enabling a more robust, voice search experience on your digital properties will not only help with mobile conversions, but improve the retention of those customers.

Voice shopping, at its best, is a multimodal experience

A research report we published two months ago showed that a large majority of consumers (83%) believe using voice technology makes it easier to find products. Even more, 89%, said voice makes searches faster. By the end of this year, purchases on mobile devices will account for nearly 30% of all US retail e-commerce sales, up 10% year over year.

Most retail experiences start with a new search on mobile or desktop. Customers have an idea of what they’re looking for, but in the case of furniture, apparel and others, it’s all about seeing the results in front of you, and refining your search based on what matters most: price, reviews, color, etc.

No one argues about the convenience of voice and the improved speed and efficiency compared to typing, but there is a big difference between voice search on a screenless device as opposed to a native digital property like your website or mobile app. Adding voice to a screen, or multi-modal experience, meets your customers where they already are, empowering them to use natural language and conversational experiences to have the best shopping experience possible.

Native voice experiences are branded, and you own the data

As a brand, which of these experiences would you want your users interacting with?

In 2018, retailers will need to make the decision between a native voice experience and one that is powered by Amazon or Google. With your own native voice experience, you own the data and search queries, you own the brand experience, and you own the customers. To stay relevant in 2018, those are things worth investing in.

Ryan MacInnis