Voysis gets vocal as retailers gear up for voice commerce

Irish start-up keen to have it independent voice platform as widely used as possible

This Christmas looks set to be a boom time for sales of voice-controlled speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. According to figures put out by Adobe Digital Insights in late June, sales are already ramping up, rising 39 per cent year-over-year to the end of May.

However, rather than just being at the beck and call of products from the internet retail giants, independent retailers have an opportunity to speak to consumers directly using technology created by Irish start-up Voysis. The system combines the firm's data with the Voysis platform to create intelligent voice activation for firms .

According to Peter Cahill, who founded and leads the company, its platform is not meant to replace text but simply to enhance the shopping experience for customers.

"Voice commerce lets people do things more quickly. Sometimes it just easier to say something than to type it," Cahill tells The Irish Times. "Mobile is now the default platform for online retail but there are problems with this. Consumers access sites via a small screen which struggles to display products well and also have to fight with a spell checker that continually 'corrects' words. Having a voice interface removes this friction and thereby makes it more likely that sales will be completed."


As Cahill sees it, there is a need for an independent platform such as Voysis Commerce.


"Consumers are well aware of what the likes of Apple, Amazon and Google are doing in this area. These companies all got their voice capabilities from acquisitions made several years ago. Pretty much every small start-up in this space has been snapped up by the bigger players and so until now there have been no independent providers.

“People ask us what it is like going head-to-head with the likes of Amazon, but I don’t see it like that. To be honest, there isn’t really that much competition for us because the big players are all focused on the consumer space and we’re selling to businesses.”

New research conducted on behalf of Voysis certainly suggests that retailers are aware of the benefits of voice. Its study shows 50 per cent of retailers have mobile voice search in their plans for 2018.

Moreover, the survey shows retailers see voice technology as significantly helpful in increasing conversion rates from mobile, which, given that as many as 80 per cent of such transactions are cancelled, is something to be welcomed.

Search queries

Another study conducted earlier this year by the Meeker Report, meanwhile, shows that voice is already starting to overtake typing in search queries.

“Many companies are trialling voice now, and going into 2018 consumers will soon start to expect it to be available” says Cahill.

Voysis, which employs 32 people and has offices in Dublin, Edinburgh and Boston, says it has received positive feedback from customers who have adopted its platform so far.

“Our focus right now is on working with partners and getting as many deployments as possible. We’ve spent several years building the platform, and are keen to get it out to as widely as we can,” says Cahill.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist