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Opinion

How voice shopping will change the game – again

“Hey Google, I would like to book my flights and hotels to the US for September.”

The technology currently exists for this to happen without any human involvement. But what will the rise of voice mean for today’s retailers? And what will it mean for consumers?

In the US, more than half of travellers are comfortable requesting general information using voice, but that drops considerably for travellers actively using voice for all tasks. About half a million Australian households currently own a smart speaker, with the number forecast to grow to three million by 2022, according to recent research from Australian IT consultancy, Telsyte.

For companies spending thousands of dollars on ads for customers to recognise on Facebook or Google, what happens when we can’t see any of those ads?

Companies will need to place a stronger focus on voice technology as it will become its own channel, with its own spend and tactics. This in turn will lead to the creation of a host of new jobs so companies can optimise the voice channel – similar to what happened with the boom of social media channels, which has created a host of new jobs and new skills.

How does this relate to branding?

Australians spent $21.3 billion on online shopping in 2017. The rise of voice technology will continue to grow this figure, with almost half of Australians willing or excited to use virtual assistants to interact and shop with retailers, according to a recent survey from Salmat.

As online shopping and searching for products relies primarily on SEO, this means that strong brands will be frontrunners for voice ahead of other businesses, even if they have a more relevant product or a better price for the consumer.

Giants Google and Amazon will be locked in a battle to control the retail market, with smaller and local businesses struggling to compete with their dominance in the market and amount of product and content they have in the digital space.

How do businesses survive?

To compete with the likes of retailers such as Google and Amazon, not to mention lifestyle brand ambassadors such as adidas and Nike, you need to ensure you are creating increasingly relevant content for your target audience, creating omnipresence across all platforms.

You need to establish as many touchpoints across the consumer journey as possible, creating relevant opportunities to convert leads where you can. Having a variety of touchpoints will help increase SEO organically.

You should note that content needs to be qualitative, not just quantitative. Search engine algorithms exclude searches that aren’t adding value, so you need to ensure your content is engaging, but also a worthwhile addition to the landscape.

Be omnipresent

After you decide what content you can create, you need to think about the right channels to distribute it through. It’s important to make sure you’re using an omnichannel approach in your digital strategy, creating a presence not just across your website and blog, but also Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and any other channels that might work for your audience.

You need to make sure the content is bespoke for each channel as well, as there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to social media. For example, videos on Instagram need to be portrait and kept short and snappy, while YouTube videos are landscape and can be longer.

Each channel has a different audience that needs to be addressed in a specific way. By creating customised content, you create the optimum environment for leads to convert in your target market. Stay true to your brand as well. The content needs to be consistent, to show your brand identity, which will create brand recall for your consumers instantly.

Ahmad Elhawli is the founder of Sportsfinda.com.au, an e-commerce marketplace specialising in Australian sporting and fitness goods.

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