Close up of a microphone

It’s easy to say “If you have any questions, just ask”, but innovative business to business (B2B) ecommerce companies are taking the idea literally.

With voice-enabled technology at home and on mobile devices, you can ask questions out loud and receive an answer in moments. Experts predict that voice shopping will generate $40 billion in sales across the United States and the United Kingdom by 2022. It’s also set to move B2B ecommerce on to a new stage of development.

What is voice search?

It includes voice-activated searches on your mobile devices like Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri and digital assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home. Voice-to-speech technology allows your smartphone to read texts out loud to you when you’re driving and to ask Alexa to add items to your shopping list. 

Interacting with search engines using spoken words rather than text makes the process much easier and more intuitive. Although some have predicted that voice will account for 50% of all internet searches in 2020, the figure will probably be closer to 25%, but that’s still significant.

Is voice search a good choice for B2B?

A quarter of shoppers in the US use voice assistants on their mobile devices to buy online, while 8% shop using digital home assistants. We know that the expectations of B2B buyers are influenced by their personal online shopping experiences so, even if they aren’t yet asking for this option for their B2B purchases, it is likely they will embrace it if it’s available.

With voice technology available on almost every modern mobile device, providing voice search options for B2B buyers is an opportunity that is too good to miss.

Anything businesses can do to streamline the research process of busy buyers is likely to deliver a competitive advantage, especially when the typical B2B decision-making process is more than 50% complete before buyers consider calling or emailing. 

Barriers to using voice search for B2B

Once an unreliable process, all the major technology providers have improved the accuracy of voice technology from 75% to 95% or better in just a decade. This figure is likely to improve further to make it the easiest enquiry tool of all. 

However, for voice to genuinely transform the business buying process it must be able to handle complex transactions. The solution will be to link voice technology with configure, price, quote (CPQ) software. This could change the B2B ecommerce landscape, offering the potential to bring a new level of experience for buyers ordering complex products. 

Your ambition to integrate voice technology into your business strategy doesn’t have to be limited. Powerful application programming interfaces (APIs) are available which allow developers to introduce changes quickly and efficiently. 

The future of voice B2B ecommerce

Voice technology could be implemented for B2B ecommerce sooner than you think. A few important steps could dramatically change how buyers make their purchases in the future.

Keywords will continue to be important, but your buyer’s journey will change. Voice search is a process of discovery, so framing product information as answers to questions will make the process much easier. 

The complexity of B2B transactions will require an in-depth understanding of the buyer requirements to allow CPQ to generate accurate real time price quotes for configured products. 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can allow systems to learn quickly and efficiently, based on the questions asked, to streamline and facilitate the process for buyers asking similar questions. 

Customer service can be enhanced by using voice technology to help busy buyers to track orders and to streamline reordering of previous purchases.
Our experts can help you take advantage of voice B2B ecommerce. Call us for a discussion.