Retailers, look out. Google Home, Amazon Echo and other smart speakers are quickly taking root in consumers’ homes.
Sales of smart speakers, which are also referred to as voice assistants, grew 103% year over year, according to data released this week by Adobe Digital Insights. That dovetails with Amazon.com Inc., No. 1 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, announcing in late December that the Amazon Echo Dot, its hockey puck-looking smart speaker, was the retailer’s best-selling product from any manufacturer in any category across all of Amazon during the holiday season, with the retail giant noting that it sold “millions” of the devices.
And Google last week claimed it “sold more than one Google Home device every second since Google Home Mini started shipping in October.” That translates into roughly 6.7 million devices.
Consumers who own these devices are using them—a lot. More than half of consumers, 54%, who own a smart speaker use it at least once a day, a recent Adobe survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers finds, and 81% of smart speaker owners use their device at least once a week.
Playing music and seeking information are the most popular ways consumers use those devices, but a large share—44.2%—of device owners have used their devices to make a purchase online, according to a new Internet Retailer survey of 1,011 consumers conducted by Toluna. And 55.5% have used their device to search for a product.
“The popularity of voice devices is proving to be a first credible challenge to touch as the primary interface for consumer electronics,” says Colin Morris, director of Adobe Analytics Cloud.
The large number of consumers using these devices is leading retailers like eBags Inc. (No. 155) to create Alexa skills, the smart speaker equivalent of a mobile app. The eBags Alexa skill enables a shopper to ask his Amazon Echo device questions about his eBags orders.
The retailer built the tool because it saw a clear use case for doing so, says former CEO Mike Edwards, who left eBags in September. The Alexa skill could help a shopper get immediate answers to her customer service questions. However, whether that’s happening remains to be seen, he says, noting that both tools are “still unproven.”
“I’ve always sought to invest in areas that may yield better performance and that may improve the customer journey,” Edwards says.