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From To-Do Lists to Purchases, Consumers Are Leaning on Smart Speakers

Making a purchase is among the technology's top uses

Smart speakers are becoming a part of consumers' daily habits, with uses ranging from performing routine tasks like setting alarms and making calls to actually buying goods.

In a December 2017 survey of US voice-enabled speaker owners, OC&C Strategy Consultants found that the top 3 smart speaker usages are for relatively banal, simple requests.

Indeed, nearly all respondents use their smart speakers—with Amazon Echo being the most prevalent device owned—to play music, inquire about the weather or news headlines and ask general questions that would otherwise be plugged into a search engine.

OC&C Strategy Consultants' survey also found that respondents rely on their smart speakers for task-orientated activities such as setting reminders and creating shopping lists. And the creation of a shopping list is a convenient segue to continue the path to purchase, with the smart speaker acting as a middleman.

While the study didn’t break out the percentage of purchases made based on a smart speaker-organized shopping list, some 62% of respondents have bought items via voice commerce.

Of that percentage, slightly more than one-third have made a purchase using a smart speaker on multiple occasions, while 15% have done so only once.

In a vein similar to noting an item on a shopping list, 12% of respondents have asked their smart speaker to add an item to a basket, likely with the intent of finalizing the purchase, online or in-app, later on.

The OC&C Strategy Consultants survey is just one of many on smart speakers. And it's important to note that not all research points to this voice commerce trend. In fact, separate data from Walker Sands Communications found that 48% of US internet users polled in March 2017 were not at all likely to make a purchase via voice-enabled speakers in the next year. 

Nonetheless, that sentiment is beginning to change as the technology becomes more mainstream. A recent survey by Kantar Consulting found that 18% of US household shoppers owned a smart speaker in December 2017. While still low, that figure was up from 7% in January 2017.

In fact, eMarketer estimates the number of US voice-enabled digital assistant users will grow to 75.5 million by 2019, up from 69.0 million this year.