Chatbots enabling consumers to communicate with retailers through messaging or smart voice devices will lead future e-commerce, an industry leader says.

Founder of multi-platform chatbot LivePerson Andrew Cannington told Retailbiz that voice-enabled commerce and chatbots will become so popular that within five years e-commerce on the web will be killed off.

“If Australian retailers don’t move and don’t move soon the next wave will come,” he says.

Mr Cannington says that while e-commerce has transformed the retail sector, the hard facts tell us that it’s messaging and voice-enabled commerce that will in fact lead future commerce.

“The web started a bit over 20 years ago with the belief or mission to move commerce and interactions between people and enterprise online. But now if we look at the stats and how that’s evolved only 14 per cent of global retail sales currently occur online,” he said.

“There’s been a 20 per cent decrease of app usage year on year. If we look at the way people actually consume content it’s all in messaging.”

It’s ultra-convenient platforms like smart voice devices and chatbots that will replace traditional web-based e-commerce in the future, Mr Cannington says.

In China this transformation is already happening, Mr Cannington says, with 30 per cent of We Chat users having made a purchase using the messaging service.

Retail leaders are also already tapping into this trend, Mr Cannington says, with Tiffanys, Nike and Burberry among those leading the way.

“Consumers want to move to a different paradigm where they can have this incredible convenience and relationship,” he says.

“If we look at the single biggest bet Amazon is making and the hottest product it’s Alexa. And the statistics are suggesting there will be 500 million voice-enabled devices in home by 2020 -not for what we do today, but for retailing.”

And if Australian retailers don’t get ahead on this digital transformation, they risk losing-out, Mr Cannignton says.

“If Australian retailers don’t take this step they will again be left behind,” he said.

“The question is the evolution that happens over the next five years, which brands will be at the forefront of that.”