Consumers aren’t shopping a lot yet with voice-activated companions like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, but that’s likely to change quickly as brands build more engaging apps. Here are three ways retailers and brands will accelerate the monetization of voice initiatives in the year ahead.

Fang Cheng, co-founder and CEO, Linc Global

Fang Cheng, co-founder and CEO, Linc Global

Voice control is the next evolution of human-machine interaction, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, data collection, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things. According to Voicebot, nearly 50 million people own smart speakers in the United States, which works out to roughly one in five adults.

And that’s just dedicated devices—another 2.5 billion digital assistants were used across all devices, including smartphones and smart car interfaces. We use our voices to shop, ask questions, and even get customer service from top brands.

In fact, voice technology is going to be increasingly important for subscription brands, grocery stores, cosmetic brands, and anyone else with repeat purchases. RBC Capital Markets predicts that voice shopping on Alexa alone will generate $5 billion in revenue for Amazon in 2020.

Conversational ads and voice search are starting to make headway. By 2020, this will change one-way marketing to two-way communications.

This leaves an open lane for these brands to disrupt the current one-way conversation with intuitive product recommendations, upsells, detailed store information, and more. Restaurants like Starbucks, Dunkin’, and Pizza Hut are already on the bandwagon. These companies allow voice ordering for their customers. Travel companies Expedia and Kayak recently rolled out similar voice features, too.


This will only grow as companies implement these innovations and open new revenue streams.

Alexa, Buy Me Something!

Voice assistants are already used for repeat purchases. As we go about our day, we remember certain things we need at home, and many people simply add them to their shopping list or cart. This includes things like cooking ingredients, cleaning supplies, toiletries, and clothing.

But current voice-search product catalogs aren’t dynamic, leaving a customer experience that’s not holistic or engaging. For example, if you want to order toilet paper on a smart speaker, you’ll only be presented with one vocal choice at a time. This makes that top search result even more important than it already is for text search.

Many smart devices, such as Facebook Portal and Echo Show, have a screen. There were approximately 8.7 million smart displays on the market at the end of 2018, up dramatically from 1.3 million at the beginning of the year. These are capable of showing much more dynamic results.


Once brands combine these capabilities with data about customer history, they will create a real connection. This relationship can help fix cart abandonment issues, increase ad engagement, and allow for monetization of voice technology. Consider Simon & Schuster’s Stephen King Library, an Alexa skill that quizzes readers to suggest which King novel best suits them.

Where Voice Monetization Is Headed in 2020

Conversational ads and voice search are starting to make headway. By 2020, this will change one-way marketing to two-way communications. Instead of just an ad talking to the customer, you will be served with the perfect conversation on your terms. Here are some of the biggest ways voice monetization will improve by the end of 2020:

1. Voice assistants will know all about you.

Customers can already get basic customer service from voice assistants, but they’ll soon have a more seamless two-way conversation. Chatbots can serve customers valuable information based on that person’s preferences, profile, and purchase history for more intuitive product recommendations.

To do this, brands will need to invest in AI with a focus on creating two-way conversations. Data tracking will soon create a holistic customer view. Pay careful attention to how keywords change from how you type to how you speak. Our vocal and written vernacular are more different than you think.

2. Voice will transform the way we navigate the web.

The common perception is that increased voice adoption will increase engagement and brand loyalty, but you’re not going to see it happen unless you’re already participating. The customer experience is evolving at a rapid pace, and several big changes have already been made in 2019. For example, Walmart partnered with Google in April to enable grocery reordering on its platform.

This, too, will have an effect on keywords, as you’ll be purchasing things like eggs, milk, and bread without using any of those keywords. Voice assistants will one day change the way we navigate the internet, with an Adobe survey showing that 76% of businesses believe voice will be a differentiator.

3. Voice technology will hit on all channels.

Voice assistants are the apex of big data, where everything that’s collected from customers over the years can be leveraged to personalize the experience. Engaged, two-way conversations are created through synergies tying all other business touchpoints and partnerships to voice and AI channels.


Brands will be looking to take the customer experience beyond post-purchase while also allowing for pre-purchase help using voice.

Marriott is already using Alexa-enabled devices across five of its hotel lines, and Hyatt is giving guests integrated access to Google Assistant. These assistants create a modern smart-home vibe in hotels and give the hotels an edge over the analog competition.

Voice technology has a lot of possibilities. It’s not being used as a primary means of shopping at the moment, but it is being used. Brands that understand how to use this technology to assist the customer journey are sure to generate a lot of revenue.

Linc Global provides a customer care automation platform.