Stuck at home, locked down due to the pandemic and forced to align their lives to online channels, consumers over the last year and a half have developed higher-than-ever expectations for easy and convenient purchasing experiences — wherever, whenever. From that realigned attitude, the Bring-It-To-Me Economy was born. And though the pandemic is now ending, the Bring-It-To-Me Economy is just getting started as consumers have rewritten their purchasing habits, raised their expectations for shopping convenience and diversified the channels over which they are interested in transacting.
A new PYMNTS report, The Bring-It-To-Me Economy: How Online Marketplaces And Aggregators Drive Omnichannel Commerce, finds that in a reopening world where consumers are now free to shop at any number of reopened businesses and dine at various restaurants, they are still clinging to the apps, aggregators and digital marketplaces they used during the pandemic.
And one such channel, voice commerce, is particularly worth watching. Though still a relatively small slice of commerce activity today, it is increasingly popular with all the right consumer groups such that it looks in line for a growth spurt as the economy increasingly connects itself.
The Growing Call For Voice Commerce
Voice commerce enthusiasts, according to the PYMNTS report, are still a small subset of commerce in general, with just 6 percent of all consumers making purchases via voice assistants in the past year.
But small segments can pack a lot of commerce power, the report also finds, as those who have made purchases via voice are shifting online faster than other consumer groups. Some 89 percent of consumers who use their voice assistants to shop and pay also report buying at least one type of product online more now than they did last year, compared to 52 percent of non-users. Unsurprisingly, voice shoppers shifting online faster are younger consumers. For example, 72.2 percent of Generation Z consumers and 67 percent of millennials also report buying at least one type of product online more now than they did last year, compared to only 38.2 percent of baby boomers and seniors.
Moreover, the report found that like millennials and bridge millennials, voice shoppers are frontrunners within the market — consumers whose digital shopping habits and preferences are strong indicators of where the market is going next.
The Connection To Contactless
Digitally connected consumers — particularly voice customers, millennials and bridge millennials — have a penchant for connected commerce experiences that can also be seen in how they like to pay when they shop in stores, the report also finds. Those three shopper groups, the report demonstrates, share a belief that touchless payment options are critical when in-store shopping is emerging, with 74 percent of voice assistant shoppers reporting it is “very” or “extremely” important that brick-and-mortar retailers provide touchless options for customers shopping in store, and some 49 percent of millennials and bridge millennials reporting the same.
Compared against other generational groups, the difference becomes more striking. Only 28 percent of non-voice users’ touchless in-store payment options are either “very” or “extremely” important, an opinion held by 19 percent of baby boomers and seniors, and 33 percent of Generation X consumers. Interestingly, this is an area where Gen Z diverges from other younger consumer groups, with only about 28 percent reporting contactless options are “very” or “extremely” important — ahead of seniors and boomers, but still behind Gen X and millennials.
Voice consumers, the report shows, are still a tiny sliver of the total commerce picture — but a tiny sliver made up of the most digital-forward consumer segments now in search of enhanced technology whenever and however they are shopping. And as this consumer group tends to lead the pack in terms of adoption among other segments, it seems voice will be a channel to watch as the bring-it-to-me mindset becomes increasingly rooted in the heart of the U.S. economy.