Should Retailer’s Worry About Voice Search?

Mobile has changed a lot of things, how people talk to their friends, take pictures, shop, check email, set a schedule, and more recently, how they search.

We all know people who “google” things at the drop of a hat (we might even be that person). And along with the instant gratification of mobile, has come the increased adoption of virtual assistants and voice search. Google Now, Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri have taken on a prominent role in daily life that’s created a tendency to treat your phone like a person. We ask questions and expect an intelligent response in the form of facts, directions, or reminders from what’s basically a robot.

In 2014, Google reported that 41% of adults, and 55% of teens were using voice search more than once per day; and adoption has only grown from there.

In a recent keynote, Googles CEO reported that voice search now accounts for 20% of all queries on Android apps and devices. What’s interesting is that the increased usage of voice search hasn’t significantly impacted the complexity of the search term or phrase, with most averaging between 1-3 words. But as word count increases, voice searches are more dominant:

Text Input vs Voice InputSource: Search Engine Land

While this growth is significant, what does the rise in voice search mean for retailers? The key difference between voice and text search is the method, not the content. And while there’s no immediate need to overhaul your search program, this change in behavior serves as a heads up. Now is the time for retailers to start watching for subtle changes in shopper’s natural language off and on-site, identify any new search terms, and evaluate this information versus current search dictionaries and synonyms.

Photo: Flickr / Sean MacEntee

Hillary Wilmoth
Hillary Wilmoth

Hillary Wilmoth is the senior product marketing manager at Reflektion. Having worked in merchandising, consumer products, publishing, analytics and technology over the past 9 years, you might think she has ADD; but each marketing role was shopper-focused and research-driven. Hillary is a native of Baltimore, and, no, it’s not exactly like The Wire.