Welcome to part one of a five-part series of posts where we’re going to dive into the art of doing business in a connected world. We’ll be sharing customer insights on voice and connected commerce, based on a 25-minute double-blind online survey that Amazon Pay conducted in April 2019, among 10,297 consumers in the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and India. To download an ebook that shares all of our findings, click here.

To facilitate cross-channel experiences, businesses should incorporate voice as an integral part of their overall commerce strategy. Consumers are signalling an embrace of multi-channel experiences within the shopping journey, with 42% likely to be involved in one that spans multiple channels in the next three years. In fact, today 39% are quite comfortable with starting their journey in one channel and ending it in another.

Among those who will use multiple channels for shopping, one in five state that they will start a journey on voice and end it online or at a physical store. About half will recommend a brand if it offers a seamless cross-channel experience and one-fourth are willing to share their personal information if a brand uses it to offer a continuous experience across channels. How can you prepare your business for these connected consumers?

Trust is a necessity, not an option

With the recent spotlight on privacy, data security, and trust, it is important that businesses do not lose sight of these critical attributes in the pursuit of improving consumer experience across channels. It is not trust ‘or’ convenience; it is trust ‘and’ convenience.

Trust, and the security of personal information, is the most important attribute when consumers shop in any channel (85% rate it as somewhat or very important).

The biggest measure that will boost confidence in a business is if it guarantees that it will not share consumer information without permission. Seeking consent to use consumer information; a strong privacy policy; transparency about how consumer information is being used; and permitting consumers to choose the information that is captured/shared round out the top five. The downside of not safeguarding consumer information is higher than the upside of doing so. Eight out of ten consumers will switch from a brand if they do not trust it to keep their data safe but a relatively lower proportion (66%) will purchase more from the same brand if it keeps their personal information safe.

Additionally, the presence of well-known digital wallets as payment options is a leading signal that increases consumer trust in websites. Quality of the website and customer reviews/business ratings are the next two.

This perception of digital payment services as a trust signal is validated by its potential usage by consumers across all channels. Sixty-three percent indicate they are likely to use digital payment services for online purchases in the next three years while 47% are likely to do so at a physical store. When it comes to voice services, ~40% are more comfortable using digital payment services over credit cards.

Even as businesses prepare themselves to offer a connected commerce experience to their consumers, it is essential that they take adequate steps to maintain and build trust across all channels. By offering simple, seamless checkout through trusted third-party payment solutions such as Amazon Pay with Alexa, merchants can appeal to the connected consumer, circumventing the trust gap that comes with less familiar websites.

Connect with your customers

Consumers today are disappointed in companies’ ability to deliver cross-channel experiences, with just more than half who are satisfied with the ability of brands today to do so. The failure to deliver on continuous cross-channel experiences (including voice) can negatively impact customer experience. Seven in 10 consumers will switch from a seller if it does not offer a good customer experience. Fifty-nine percent will not only switch but also be vocal, as they will share their unpleasant experience with friends and family.

Businesses owe it to their customers to provide an effortless commerce experience; recognizing them across channels and helping them continue their shopping journey from wherever they left off. The only way to do this is by considering voice not in isolation, but as an integral part of a business’ commerce strategy.

To start, voice skills can be as simple as “Check the status of my web order” with features like Alexa Delivery notifications or “Add something to my wish list” so that consumers can purchase item later on their phone or the web. Businesses can then build other complex cross-channel experiences that involve voice.

To access the full results of Amazon Pay’s survey and read more insights into the future of connected commerce, click here.