Saturday 22 September 2018

Voice search set to be biggest trend in online retail in 2018, Attraqt predicts

Expect Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa to play a larger role in online shopping next year.

Attraqt chief executive Andre Brown (Attraqt/PA)
Attraqt chief executive Andre Brown (Attraqt/PA)

By Kalyeena Makortoff, Press Association City Reporter

A behind-the-scenes digital retail “accelerator” is betting that consumers will take bigger advantage of voice commands next year, using the likes of Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa to buy clothes and food online.

Attraqt has been in the online retail game since 2003 and worked with high-profile brands like Tesco, House of Fraser, Asos, Laura Ashley and Superdry to develop tools that allow retailers to personalise offerings, target consumers more efficiently and “shorten the journey” from a browsing page to your shopping basket.

“We’ve been at the heart of personalisation, particularly around introduction of recommendations – people who bought this, bought that, or complete the look – and the whole purpose of that is to speed up the search process and the browsing process,” Attraqt chief executive Andre Brown told the Press Association.

He said that voice and visual search – which uses an image to identify the shape, colour and size of an item and match it on the site – were some of the most influential trends in online retail this year, and are likely to gain pace in 2018.

“Think about the way you search on a retail site now: you probably search using one or two words, and I think that’s largely because we’ve been kind of educated by Google … and I think, if you look at how voice is being used on things like Alexa and some of the other services that are voice-driven, I think that is kind of training everyone to use voice search.”

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Next year, it is more likely that consumers will be talking through their purchases rather than typing and clicking – with voice becoming the “standard”.

“Once you’ve got an Alexa advice, or Siri on your phone, once you’re used to doing a search like that on your phone, you’re gonna expect to do that on e-commerce sites.,” said Mr Brown.

“We will be making announcements later next year about what we’re doing in this area, but I think voice search may well be more important that visual search. Certainly, we will have offerings for both.”

He said it is often easy to tell which retailers have failed to enhance their online retail platform through services like Attraqt’s, pointing to two “tell-tale signs”.

“One is site search itself. You can normally break that quickly … try misspellings, or try doing a complicated search, or my favourite trick actually is looking at stuff that’s been promoted on the homepage or landing pages, and try to search for that same item – you’ll be surprised to learn you can’t find it. So that’s a bit of a giveaway.

“The other one is looking at the recommendations … you start to see results that are just out of context with what you’ve been looking at.”

The AIM-listed company has around 130 staff in five global offices – in London, Amsterdam, Bulgaria, Chicago and Sydney – and is now looking at opportunities to grab market share in new sectors.

“For example, we don’t really do much in travel – we’ve started getting inbound inquiries from very large travel businesses … that’s really around our recommendation technologies so that might be a new market for us.”

There have also been inquiries from online “marketplaces” – think Amazon or Etsy – though Mr Brown said the companies getting in contact were not from the US or Europe.

It could mean big business for the company, which currently has around 230 clients who pay a monthly fee for being on the platform based on volume of use and size of their product catalogue.

“The requirement is much more around dealing with huge product catalogues, so that’s big-sized search indexes doing stuff really quickly.”

Press Association

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