Moving Beyond the Buy Button in Commerce

Fitting that voice should be the topic of our inaugural “Voices of IP” segment, as Vice President of Amazon Pay Patrick Gauthier chats with PYMNTS about the tailwinds pushing voice toward a new prominence in payments.

Voice may be the oldest conduit of data and facilitator of transactions known to man.  The act of speaking up — letting it be known what is wanted, what is needed, in what size, for how much and when — may be as old as commerce itself.

In a fireside chat with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster at the Innovation Project 2017, Vice President of Amazon Pay Patrick Gauthier said that designing a successful voice interface is one that considers conversation as a natural interface.  That means, he said, “starting with the consumer in mind…and not trying to impress a developer,” when it comes to designing voice into mobile and commerce functions.  Mobile has moved well beyond the “pinch and zoom” functions of the not too distant past (and limitations) tied to hardware, or even buy buttons.

“We’re on the cusp of making commerce conversational again,” Gauthier told PYMNTS.  And against that backdrop, he added, merchants can recognize and embrace opportunity, where commerce can be fulfilled through different channels and methods (mobile, for example, or typing www. and a given search term, to move toward a transaction).  Ideally, he told PYMNTS, “voice can accompany the customer through all the phases of a purchase.” 

Security can also be ascertained, for example, via voice print.  Voice can also reduce friction moving through activities that may at present be deemed customer unfriendly, such as dealing with a bank or financial services firm via phone, where at present the routine involves having to enter or say the same personal data (from name to account number) time and again. 

The ideal situation would trace back to “conversational memory” and eliminate some of those friction points, with AI, hardware and software working in tandem, and with agility, in a scenario where he said “seeds may grow in parallel.”   

Repeating an exhortation to “think outside the buy button,” Gauthier stated that firms and developers, as apps become more prevalent, should consider “what voice can do for you.”  Three or five years down the line, he told PYMNTS, the only certainty is that we will be surprised by what voice can bring, and does bring, to retail and commerce.