“Alexa, stop the alarm.”
“Alexa, play the news.”
“Alexa, remind me to buy bread.”
Even though it has only been a few years since I bought an Amazon Echo, Alexa has already become an integral part of my life. When I read PYMNTS’ annual How We Will Pay study, in collaboration with Visa, I found out I wasn't alone. Nearly one in 10 consumers (9.6 percent) use voice-activated devices to make a purchase — a 25 percent increase from the year prior.
While it's hard to notice at times, the digital revolution is driving how and where we make purchases. From simply walking out of a store with express checkout, to using a smart device, to tapping to pay, payment experiences have changed drastically. Think about just 10 years ago when we had none of the above. The way we pay is getting faster, easier and more secure.
The study tracks the evolution of how digital is changing our spending habits and preferences, while examining the growing usage of connected devices and their role in facilitating the day-to-day purchasing journey, as well as uncovering future trends based on current behaviors.
Key takeaways from the research include the following:
1. Voice is Becoming a Killer App for Commerce
Consumers are now interacting with voice-enabled devices at a much higher rate than ever before, with more than three in 10 people owning voice assistants. And those interactions go beyond setting a timer or making a phone call. Today, consumers are using voice features throughout their purchasing journey, from researching and comparing products, to adding them to their carts. Voice allows sellers to replace laborious checkout experiences and close the sale.
2. Almost Anything Can Become a Point-of-Sale System
Regular objects like TVs, mirrors and cars have transformed into POS systems, making it possible to shop from anywhere at any time. According to the study, one in five consumers made purchases using connected devices while watching TV, reading, engaging in recreational activities, commuting to work, or even while at the office. At the same time, the likelihood of security breaches is increasing, making it absolutely necessary for retailers to stay vigilant of threats and adopt necessary security measures, like tokenization or 3-D Secure, to protect consumer information.
3. Today’s Always-On Consumer is Looking to Save Money and Time, and Reduce Friction
In a world where we're overloaded with information, consumers are looking for ways to declutter. As a result, they’re being more selective of devices and apps they use to purchase things; shedding those that don’t save time, money, or provide consistent experiences. For instance, consumers showed fatigue with a number of apps that enable them to pay at the pump (down 2 percent), finding a parking spot (down 3 percent), automatically pay at restaurants (down 2 percent), and purchase an item by taking a picture (down 3 percent). Retailers that develop easy-to-navigate apps that allow consumers to “multitask” during different everyday activities should see increased usage.
What consumers want has never changed. Consumers want to save money and time, and reduce friction. With the evolution of technology, however, retailers now can create powerful use cases where consumers don’t even notice they’re engaging in commerce at all. This is an exciting time in how we pay, and I cannot wait to see what comes next.
Mary Kay Bowman is the head of global seller product and solutions at Visa.