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July 21, 2022
Amazon Takes Fresh Approach to Alexa-Enabled Voice Commerce
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Voice commerce has yet to really take off, but as consumers get used to interacting with smart devices and products via speech, Amazon has picked this time to introduce the Alexa Shopping Kit, a resource for developers.

It is, Amazon announced, a comprehensive suite of features that allows skill developers to monetize their efforts by helping customers interacting with Alexa discover, research and purchase relevant products available on Amazon. As such, consumers, through an embedded shopping experience within a skill, can purchase products that are recommended by developers who earn a commission on qualifying referrals through the Amazon Associates on Alexa program.

Consumers, through their smartphones and smart speakers, have become accustomed to at least minimal voice interaction with the Internet. The related voice assistants, the most popular including Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri, are increasingly integrated into households and not necessarily with tech such as smart speakers alone. Smart home products such as thermostats now interact with consumers by voice. Even products not developed within the tech sector now interact with consumers through speech direction, as with a recently launched Lasko tower fan and air purifier.

Still, shoppers haven’t necessarily found it easy to shop and purchase via voice. Product assessment through speech interaction has proven challenging for consumers. However, Amazon is taking a broad approach to how it is developing voice commerce, as demonstrated in preliminary applications.

For example, Amazon pointed out, meditation has become a popular way to calm the mind, and for 1.4 million Spanish speakers and counting, Diana — an Alexa skill developed by the Spanish publishing company Grupo Planeta — has become a tool to use in practice. Grupo Planeta employed the Alexa Shopping Kit to surface products at relevant moments. 

To remain respectful of the user experience, and not distract meditators as they were using the skill, the team at Diana decided to offer information about related books at the end of a course.

“We only surface book recommendations when customers have a need for more information, and with the Alexa Shopping Kit, we are able to offer books at the most relevant moment in time,” Jokin Urraza, innovation and digital transformation director at Grupo Planeta “To build customer trust, we gave customers the option to add the product to their Amazon shopping cart. This way, they could choose not to buy the product if they changed their mind later. We are incredibly pleased with both the customer experience and the results we have seen with the Alexa Shopping Kit.”

In addition to helping consumers purchase products, Amazon noted, developers can use the Alexa Shopping Kit to drive product awareness and offer product recommendations.  

Ryan Jordan, developer of the role-playing game The Dark Citadel and author of several horror and science-fiction novels, used the Alexa Shopping Kit to drive awareness of his books among the players of the game.

“I integrated the Alexa Shopping Kit into my story-based skills,” said Jordan. “For me, it was a huge value add to be able to let users know about my books. Prior to the Alexa Shopping Kit, I estimate that one out of 1,000 players knew that I am a writer. Now, I have five people asking me every week about my books.”

The Alexa Shopping Kit lets developers engage consumers at every stage of the shopping journey from discovery to research to purchase. Skill builders can minimize their code burden by choosing the products they want to surface and letting Alexa enable shopping experiences within their skill. 

As to purchases, skill builders have access to Shopping Actions that let consumers add recommended products to their Amazon cart or a shopping list on Amazon and buy a product. The Alexa Shopping Kit provides actionable insights to developers that can help them select shopping experiences that resonate most with their customers, Amazon maintained. Skill builders can compare and contrast metrics for every product recommended by their skill then identify and surface the ones their customers like the most. As part of the launch, Amazon is giving developers access to aggregate metrics for Add to Cart and Buy shopping actions, with additional insights becoming unlocked on an ongoing basis.

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