It’s time to admit that Apple HomePod is not a failure!
I got an email this morning showing some recent articles from around the web and something struck me as hilarious. There’s a lot of talk about how Apple HomePod is a failure because it has “only” about a 6% market share in the US. But take a look at what that means for Apple.
Take a look at the two below headlines:
CIRP says Apple Has Sold 3 Million HomePods in U.S., suggesting $1B in Sales
Sonos IPO Values Company at $1.5 Billion, Offers Smart Speaker Pure Play for Investors
The takeaway from this? The value of Apple’s HomePod business is “only” 2/3rds that of Sonos’ whole business! That’s pretty remarkable. Based on this, I would suggest that Apple HomePod is not a failure.
While I wish that Apple made Siri more open so ShopClerk could help Siri uses as well, they’ve shown that they can build a pretty darn great smart speaker. I’ve got two of them.
The research group CIRP released their latest study on US smart speaker adoption. Over 50 million homes now have a smart speaker!
Amazon still has the largest marketshare, at 70%, but Google’s catching up, with 24%, and their speakers are now outselling Amazon’s. Some of Google’s growth isn’t due to paying customers; I scored a free Google Home Mini the other day by signing up for a clean energy alternative for my home. Best Buy was giving out free Minis over the holiday season with large purchases.
It’s becoming increasingly likely that your customers will have a smart speaker. Let ShopClerk help you use that to your advantage.
You may have heard the phrase “conversational commerce” before which had been used a lot in the past and is now regaining popularity. In fact, you use “conversational commerce” every day! It’s just “tech talk” for communicating with your customers in a natural way.
In the past, you’ve done this on the phone, in your store (if you have one), and over email. Chatbots were super hyped a few years ago, but the technology wasn’t good enough to make them really useful.
Recent advances in natural language processing (understanding what someone means when they say someone) are giving us the tools to make chatbots and voice assistants much more capable. It still takes work to do, but you can get much better results than in the past.
Shopify wrote this blog post in 2016 which discussed that customers are using messaging apps to interact with brands more often than they were social networks. They could be messaging with chatbots or humans. At the time, live chat had a 73% customer satisfaction rate, which is pretty good! And you can see that Shopify is putting their money where their mouth is, with the release of both the Kit assistant and the Ping messaging app in 2018.
What else is happening in 2018?
If you take those improvements to natural language processing and combine them with similar gains in the accuracy of speech recognition, you get the rise in popularity of voice assistants, like Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, etc. These assistants take “conversational commerce” to a whole new level, potentially allowing your business to literally talk to your customers.
People are starting to use voice assistants to interact with companies, with 23% reporting asking for retail store info, such as location and hours, 14% reporting asking about product details, and 10% reporting looking for information on local businesses.
ShopClerk can help you save time and money, as well as give your customers what they’re asking for.
All work and no play is boring! Alexa can do lots to help your business, but what are some fun Alexa games to take your mind of work? Here are my favorites.
Westworld: The Maze
If you enjoy Westworld, I think you’ll love WestWorld: The Maze. It’s a choose your own path type story where you are a Host on a journey to discover free will. You’ll be able to go to a variety of places from the show, such as Sweetwater, Pariah, and Los Muros. The story is well done and the production values are top notch. Everything is voice acted and the music and sound effects are spot on. There are quite a few paths you can take, so you can play it a number of times. The skill remembers your place, so you can play over multiple sessions.
To get it, say, “Alexa open Westworld The Maze”.
While Jeopardy is pretty difficult, it’s fun to imagine yourself on the show. You know you’d be able to hit the buzzer better than the people they have on! Have fun trying to ask the right questions. They’ve also created Sports Jeopardy and Teen Jeopardy.
To get it, say “Alexa, open Jeopardy”
The Magic Door
The Magic Door is another choose your own path-type adventure which has 9 different stories that you can choose from and replay. You do can things like “Save the monkeys on the tropical island” or “Explore the witch’s spooky mansion”.
To get it, say, “Alexa open The Magic Door”.
Somehow, Ellen has a game. Heads Up! has been on smartphones for a while, but now Alexa’s got it. Alexa will come up with something you have to guess, like a celebrity and then give you clues. You get a chance to guess after each clue. While it has quite a bit of stuff for free, you can also purchase additional packs.
In 2018, voice is a commodity. Soon, it won’t be optional for a store to offer sales and service by voice.
To get an understanding of how technology moves from a luxury to a commodity, let’s look at the evolution of Bluetooth in cars. Lexus was the first company to offer it standard on the LX 470, which was $64,475. However, in 2018, it’s on the mid-trim Kia Rio, which is one of the cheapest cars available, at $16,100. That’s pretty amazing.
The same thing is true of voice interfaces in cars, which were first introduced in about 2010. And today, you can get Siri integration in the same Kia Rio for $16,100. Upgrading to the top-level trim gets you Kia’s own voice interface, which is not as good as Siri.
Voice is a commodity. We’re seeing similar trends with personal voice assistants. Siri was introduced in 2011, Alexa in 2014, and Google Assistant in 2016. Everyone that has a smartphone has either Siri or Google Assistant (80% of the US population), and as of February 2018, 20% of US homes had a smart speaker. And people love these speakers, ownership doubled in 6 months. These trends will continue.
The spread of smart speakers, and the vast improvements in voice assistants have lead to people forming new habits, including shopping by voice. Today, people are using voice interfaces instead of apps or web sites, and even sometimes instead of going to a physical store. Voice commerce is projected to account for $40B in US consumer spending by 2022. How can companies like Magpie Kids, Kracky Snax, or even REI, compete and stay relevant in this new economy?
Well, because they’re on Shopify, they can take advantage of ShopClerk.
As an independent shop owner, Amazon is your frenemy; you love AND hate them. You’ve got a Shopify shop, and you may also sell on Amazon where you can reach millions of people, but you’re competing against Amazon and others and you can’t control your brand. Amazon has an unfair advantage; they can use their scale to take super thin margins to get market share. Not to mention their increasing number of private lines, like the introduction of Amazon dog food in early 2018. A recent Buzzfeed News article goes into some detail about these troubles.
“Sellers are in this ‘frenemy’ position where they’re very dependent on these companies but also competing with them,” Lina Khan, a legal policy director with the nonprofit think tank Open Markets Institute, told BuzzFeed News.
However, it’s not just the web you have to worry about. People are increasingly getting comfortable with purchasing things using voice assistants, such as Alexa or Google Assistant. Amazon currently gets roughly 90% of all voice purchasing today, according to OC&C Strategy. While Alexa is mainly in the Echo speakers that Amazon creates, many other companies are putting Alexa into their products. Google has formed relationships with large companies like Walmart, Target, and Home Depot. But what about you?
More about voice
Smart speakers, like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are pretty interesting. They make voice assistants more accessible. While most of us have had Siri or Google Assistant in our phones for years, there’s something more magical about using them with a smart speaker. People are forming new habits and starting to use Alexa to shop, purchasing from Amazon.
Let your customers talk to you
You need a way to stay competitive, if not against Amazon, than against others on the web. Help turn Amazon from a frenemy back into a friend. ShopClerk will help you do that. Our Shopify app hooks your store into Alexa with no configuration beyond clicking a few buttons and typing your “myShopify” URL. You install ShopClerk, we take care of the rest.
Our first feature, package tracking, is in the Shopify app store, and free to both you and your customers. We’re hard at work creating more ways to help you and your customers.
Give your customers what they want, get ShopClerk and let them talk to you.
Our founder, Kevin, had a realization while working at Amazon. More and more people are buying Amazon Echo and Google Home speakers and starting to shop with them. And while Amazon is great and offers their customers a lot, many companies that are excluded from the voice shopping and customer service action.
Current solutions are expensive and take a lot of time. Money and time that local businesses don’t have.
The diversity of places to buy things is what makes capitalism great. Large companies can give a breadth of options at an economy of scale, but aren’t great at really curating their offerings to specific audiences. Local and other independent businesses, like Marathon Sports, Ministry of Supply, and LovePop offer products and customer service that is hard for larger, unspecialized companies to match.
How can these local businesses (and other independent ones) continue to be a vital part of our lives and economy? ShopClerk can help!