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Smart Speaker Shopping Gains Traction

Because shopping on smart speakers is gaining popularity faster than expected, we’ve raised our latest forecast for smart speaker use.

We expect 31.0 million people in the US will shop via a smart speaker this year, up 31.6% from 2018. (According to our definition, shopping includes browsing, researching products and adding things to a shopping cart.) By 2021, this figure will climb to 38.0 million as more than four in 10 US smart speaker users look to these devices for their shopping capabilities.

Comparatively, 21.0 million people will make at least one purchase via smart speaker this year, according to our estimates—with the majority of purchases comprising of electronic media, such as movies or music. (Note: As we increased our smart speaker shoppers estimates, buyer percentages were subsequently lower than previously forecasted.)

"The smart speaker market is showing no signs of stopping, and with increased adoption comes increased use, including shopping," said eMarketer senior forecasting analyst, Jaimie Chung. "New users are testing out the shopping-related features of their devices, and early adopters continue to utilize voice to search for products, ask for prices, and more."

In a June 2019 survey from Bizrate Insights, 21% of US smart speaker owners said they had ordered entertainment via their devices compared with the 11% who said the same in October 2018. Similarly, 14% of respondents report re-ordering a previously purchased product in June 2019, compared with 11% in October 2018.

The number of US smart speaker owners who have browsed products remained at 15% over the past nine months. Among those who asked for product recommendations, the figure dropped from 18% in October 2018 to 15% in June 2019.

But while buying through these devices is on the rise, consumers still have certain reservations.

"Although smart display speakers like the Google Home Hub and Amazon Echo Show are growing in popularity, they still make up a small share of the market, so the main hindrance to buying through smart speakers—the inability to view products—will remain relevant," Chung said. "In addition, many smart speaker users are simply uninterested in using their devices for anything other than the tried-and-true functions with which they were meant to assist: news and weather updates, playing music and asking basic questions."