Smart Speaker Owners Are Becoming More Comfortable Making Purchases

March 23, 2018

Shopping may not yet be a mainstream Smart Speaker activity, but there are indications that it’s becoming more widespread. In a new presentation [download page], comScore reveals that 30% of Smart Speaker owners have purchased an item online using their device, and about 1 in 8 (13%) have ordered food or services.

This latest survey was conducted in March of this year, and the figures compare favorably with similar research conducted by comScore in Q1 of 2017, about a year earlier. In that survey, just 11% of Smart Speaker owners reported having ordered a product using their device, and only 8% had ordered food or services.

These latest figures are supported by recent research from TiVo. In its survey of more than 3,000 US and Canadian adults, TiVo found that almost 3 in 10 (28%) Smart Speaker owners used them to make purchases.

As such, it seems fairly reasonable to suggest that roughly one-quarter to one-third of Smart Speaker owners are using them to order items, although it is worth noting that other research has found even higher rates of purchasing activity.

Meanwhile, Smart Speaker owners are clearly growing more comfortable in using their devices not only for shopping, but for all sorts of activities. Some 81% in this latest survey use their device to check the weather (up from 57% last year), while 77% ask general questions (up from 60%), 74% stream music (up from 54%) and 60% set timers and alarms (up from 41%).

Security Remains A Key Concern

When asked their reasons for not making a purchase on their Smart Speaker, owners who haven’t yet done so primarily pointed to concerns with providing payment information (52%). That was closely followed by a similar security-related issue: concern over the security of their data (45%).

These results are echoed by previous research from The Integer Group, in which shoppers said that their biggest concern with artificial intelligence (AI) is the security of their personal information.

It’s also worth noting that the inability to see product details is also a strong deterrent for shopping via Smart Speakers. This makes sense in light of recent research from Episerver, which found that images of products are some of the most important types of content available to shoppers when purchasing via a brand’s website or mobile app.

Smart Speakers May Inhibit Brand Loyalty

Research has suggested that it’s more common for people who buy through Smart Speakers to order a new product they’ve not previously purchased (58%) than to re-order an item previously purchased (49%).

But even when re-ordering an item there could be implications for brands, and the comScore survey results suggest that Smart Speakers could be “creating a barrier to brand loyalty.” That’s because fully 42% of those who had made a purchase via their device asked it to purchase the item (e.g. laundry detergent) as opposed to the brand (58%).

Asking about an item rather than a brand can result in Alexa, for example, recommending a new or not previously purchased brand, and L2 Research has found that Alexa prioritizes Amazon’s Choice products over top-ranked items in conventional search.

The comScore results indicate that for about one-fifth (18%) of those who ordered an item (not a brand) through their Smart Speaker, the device suggested a different brand than they one they normally order.

While that’s a sizable proportion, it’s also true that about twice as many were asked if the item being ordered was the one they had purchased before (39%), and a similar proportion were asked which specific brand they were looking for (38%). So perhaps the impact isn’t too strong for now.

The full presentation is available for download here.

About the Data: The comScore data is based on a survey of 861 Smart Speaker owners conducted from March 1-6, 2018.

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