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Digital Kiosks Upgrade To Voice Commerce

The voice commerce category continues to find ways to be innovative. Case in point: Israeli startup Touchless.ai recently introduced a new intuitive voice management solution that turns any interactive kiosk into a touch-free, easy-to-use interface. The company believes the platform can solve the problem for restaurants and other public places that use kiosks currently, but lack contactless and voice capability, especially for bars and restaurants.

The Touchless.ai solution eliminates physical interaction with the ordering screen, replacing it with numbered options on that are triggered by voice command. Because it eliminates interference from noises, it enables voice commands that might normally be drowned out.

“Touchless.ai enables businesses to instantly upgrade their digital kiosks to a natural, seamless voice experience that their customers will love,” said Roy Baharav, co-creator of Touchless.ai, in a statement. “Now more than ever, we see it as our mission to give today’s businesses the touchless technology needed to keep the kiosk experience safe and empower businesses to continue thriving.”

The interface needs no trigger word and operates without personally identifying the user’s voice or face. It uses the existing digital kiosk’s existing interface, so users instantly understand how to navigate using their voice. It has already started trials in the U.S. and Europe and the company aims to expand quickly to points of sale, airports, medical centers, theme parks and other public spaces where users will be able to talk to the digital kiosks without the need to touch screens. The solution is adaptable to all web-based apps used at kiosks and plans in the future to accommodate iOS and Android operating systems.

“We solved the problems of voice experience in commercial environments with a system that really works, and that’s the big news,” said Baharav. “Until now, voice interfaces in commercial environments did not work for three reasons: the tasks were too complex for the existing technologies; the voice recognition technologies were not accurate enough in a noisy environment with complex interactions; and the setup for existing solutions could run into tens of thousands of dollars to develop a new voice application and take several months.”

The pandemic has of course accelerated concerns over touchscreens. According to research by Capgemini, 77 percent of consumers would rather use touchless technologies following the rise in personal hygiene concerns triggered by the coronavirus crisis.

Alexa? I’m Lost

Anybody who’s ever hiked has been there. Bad trail maps. No trail maps. Redundant hikes or walks. Outdoor and hiking brand Merrell thinks it can solve the problem. It recently launched an application via Alexa Skill and Google Assistant Action powered by conversational experience platform Voicify.

The experience focuses first on allowing users to ask Merrell to find a trail near them, and the voice-activated app comes back with details, difficulty ratings and directions. Subsequently the information can be texted to the user for later reference. To achieve the widest availability to Merrell customers it deployed the experience to both Alexa and Google Assistant, which Voicify says is one of the core strengths of its platform.

“The Merrell team approached voice in exactly the right way,” said Voicify Chief Strategy Officer Jason Fields. “Where many brands try to make everything for everyone, Merrell identified one of many moments in the customers life where they could be useful and built an experience for it.”

L’Oreal Speaks Up In APAC

French health and beauty conglomerate L’Oreal is striking an aggressive pose for voice commerce in the Asia-Pacific region, with an emphasis on older millennials.

“We see higher penetration of conversational commerce within the more mature population, aged above 30,” said L’Oreal Vietnam Chief Digital Officer Pierre-Olivier Guy. “If I sell a fragrance on e-commerce, I may need a promotion or a discount. But on c-commerce (conversational commerce), it is all about the experience, the quality of the story, and meaningful conversations.”

According to tech site WARC, L’Oreal has explored voice commerce in the past two years or so in Vietnam. Its Kiehl’s brand initially started using messaging to ensure fast responses to customer queries, but it quickly saw other opportunities. It ran an end-to-end conversational commerce campaign on Facebook, collecting orders via Messenger. Guy says the campaign increased sales by 22 percent and increased weekly conversations four-fold.

Speaking at an IAB SEA+India webinar, Karen Teo, Facebook’s global business group vice president for APAC, said: “Since starting conversational commerce, buyers report spending 60% more. Trust and reassurance are key factors to the buyer’s experience on c-commerce.”

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