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British retailer introduces voice shopping with Google Assistant

British retailer introduces voice shopping with Google Assistant
Argos makes voice shopping available via Google Assistant
British retailer Argos has made voice shopping available to its customers by forming partnership with Google. People can now use their voice to reserve some 20,000 products for same-day pick up at 850 plus Argos stores by using Google Assistant.

Google Assistant is available on most Android phones, iOS or smart speakers like Google Home. After a quick confirmation on their smartphone, customers’ order is ready for collection.

With “Hey Google, ask Argos…,” customers can perform a number of shopping-related tasks, like searching for products, checking availability and finding stores, by saying “OK Google, ask Argos to find my nearest store,” for example.

Argos’ Voice Shop service is launched at a time when smart speakers are increasingly taking up residence in British homes. Sales of smart speakers have grown 151 percent year-on-year at Argos.

One in 10 households in the UK now has a digital home assistant and voice shopping is forecast to be worth £3.5 billion in the UK by 2022, Argos says.

Six in 10 sales at Argos now start online, yet 80 percent of orders are fulfilled in-store as shoppers take advantage of its Click & Collect and Fast Track services. Some 95 percent of people in the UK live within ten miles of an Argos store, so it makes sense that they would order via app, website or voice, before collecting goods at their convenience from a nearby store rather than wait in for a delivery.

Digital assistant to be a hit

“Digital home assistants have soared in popularity over the past year and people are increasingly looking to their smart devices to help with the smooth running of their lives,” Argos CEO John Rogers said. “Voice technology has the potential to revolutionize how we shop in the future.”

Argos is betting on voice shopping’s potential. “We predict that the Voice Shop service will be a big hit and we will develop and refine the offer further as we get feedback from our customers.” Rogers said. As part of the initial launch phase, Argos will be seeking feedback from customers on the new service to further improve the Voice Shop technology and user experience.

Voice Shop is the latest in a line of technology innovations introduced by Argos. Earlier this year Argos launched augmented reality-enabled LEGO models through its mobile app, closely followed by an augmented reality service allowing customers to try large screen TVs in their home before they buy.

More people shop via Google Assistant than Amazon Alexa

Over half of Google Home smart speaker owners report having tried voice shopping. It is surprising that Google has a higher voice commerce trial rate than Amazon, but the data is consistent across three surveys in 2018, according to a report published by voice AI company Voicebot. One reason is that US$25 Google Express credits were offered to Google Home buyers in the fourth quarter of 2017. "Many users may have tried voice shopping primarily to redeem their credits. Another reason is that voice shopping is also available on mobile devices through Google Assistant making it more accessible to users when not at home," says the report.

Google started to offer voice shopping in September 2017 through Google Express. This is available to both smart speaker owners through Google Home and smartphone users utilizing the Google Assistant app on iOS or the native voice assistant on Android-based devices. If you say, “order paper towels from Walmart,” Google Assistant walks users through the ordering process which can be completed entirely using voice. Orders of more than $35 qualify for free shipment. Costco, Target, and The Home Depot are included in the more than 70 Google Express retail partners.
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