The Effect of Voice AI on Consumer Purchase and Search Behavior
54 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2019 Last revised: 10 Nov 2021
Date Written: October 25, 2019
Voice-activated shopping devices, such as Amazon Alexa or Alibaba Tmall Genie, are gaining popularity worldwide as a new channel for online shopping. We use large-scale archival data of consumer-level purchase records from Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce platform, to empirically investigate how consumers’ adoption of Tmall Genie affects their consumption. We show that the average consumer’s weekly spending on Alibaba increases by 15.9% as a result of adopting Genie, corresponding to an increase of approximately US $406 million in annual sales revenue from all Genie users. The effect of Genie adoption on spending is the most positive for younger consumers (< 25 years) and is negative for older consumers (> 45 years); the effect does not vary significantly by gender. Although the positive effects attenuate over time, they remain significant in weeks 8–17 after adoption (the end of our sample period). Moreover, the voice channel does not cannibalize the PC and mobile channels; rather, Genie adoption has a positive spillover effect on spending on the PC channel. Lastly, the impact of Genie adoption on spending is stronger for product categories that do not require active search or comparison: specifically, those with low substitutability and those with higher purchase frequency. Our results demonstrate that voice-AI devices with shopping capabilities can enhance the growth of the affiliated e-commerce platform. The findings provide useful implications for e-commerce companies, digital platforms, and businesses that are harnessing voice-activated shopping.
Keywords: Voice assistant, voice shopping, e-commerce, causal impact, heterogeneity, channels
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