Officeworks hops on voice interface bandwagon with Google Assistant integration

Office products retailer becomes the second Australian brand this week to launch its own voice interface integration

Officeworks has become the second retailer this week to jump onto the voice interaction bandwagon, announcing an integration with Google Assistant that will allow consumers to engage with its products and brand via voice-activated devices.

The integration is across Google Home and Google Home Mini as well as compatible Android and iOS smartphones, and allows consumers to search product information on 35,000 SKUs, check product availability in-store, confirm store locations and trading hours via voice. To do this, consumers say ‘Ok Google, talk to Officeworks’ to their compatible voice device.

Once consumers have interacted, they can step through and place an order on the Officeworks website. The retailer’s customer experience and ecommerce manager, David Pisker, said integrating with Google Assistant is ongoing proof of its commitment to omni-channel retailing.

“We are excited to provide customers with another way to engage with our brand anywhere, anytime and in any way they want,” he said. “It’s easier than ever to manage different aspects of your home and office ahead of time, or from a remote location. Our aim is to educate Australians on how this smart technology can benefit their everyday lives.”

It’s the latest step in a series of initiatives launched by Officeworks to bring digital enablement into the retail experience. In November, the company also launched a free two-hour click-and-collect service.

Officeworks partnered with digital agency, First, on the integration. First head of operations, Matt Ware, labelled voice the next stage of how people will explore the Web and interact with brands and companies.

“Already, 20 per cent of search on Google is performed via voice and this will grow to over 50 per cent by 2020,” he said. “Companies, like Officeworks, who adopt this medium early, will be well ahead of their competitors in terms of understanding how their customers want to talk with them and what answers to give in return to assist. We are very excited to be working with Officeworks to bring such an innovative tool to market.”

Voice-based retailing is also in the sights of eBay, which announced its own integration with Google Assistant earlier this week. The partnership allows consumers to search its 60 million product listings via compatible Google Home speakers and smartphones.

The voice-based era is rapidly coming upon on. In its recent JWT Intelligence Speak Easy research, J Walter Thompson found 73 per cent of global consumers surveyed agreed they’d use voice-based assistants all the time if they could understand them properly and speak back to them as well as a human can.

In a presentation earlier this week to local brands, Google strategist, Sam Payne, said the decision on what a brand’s ‘voice’ should sounds like is a significant one for all companies to start debating.

From his early experiences developing voice for brands, Payne said there are a number of considerations already that need to be considered. These include brand personality, consumer privacy, and the contextual quality of conversations.

“That point in which we moved from copy-led communications to something that’s much more graphic, and made choices about paring back the articulation of language and speaking more visually – that is potentially comparable to what we’ve about to see with voice,” he said.

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