Voice shopping is on the verge of taking off.
A recent survey by OC&C Strategy Consultants indicates that voice shopping — purchases made using smart speakers — will jump from the $2 billion industry it is today to $40 billion by 2022. Moreover, Amazon is expected to dominate the new channel with the largest market share of smart speakers, currently more than twice that of its competitors Google and Microsoft.
Currently, Amazon's Alexa Voice Shopping service lets you make purchases or get a rundown of the day's best deals with the sound of your voice. For instance, if you decide you need some paper towels, you can shout out your request to Alexa, and within days, your order will arrive at your doorstep.
The e-tailer has even offered exclusive Alexa-only discounts to consumers who purchase or re-order items via an Alexa device. Chances are, we'll see similar offers again during Prime Day 2018.
But there are some requirements you should know about. First, you'll have to be an Amazon customer, and you'll want to be an Amazon Prime subscriber to make Alexa Voice Shopping much easier. You'll also need a device with Alexa built in, such as an Echo Dot.
If you can tick all those boxes, Alexa Voice Shopping might be a great alternative to brick-and-mortar stores and, yes, traditional online shopping.
Read on to learn more about the service and how to start voice shopping with Alexa.
What is Alexa Voice Shopping?
Alexa Voice Shopping is a service from Amazon that allows you to place orders through the online retail giant with just a voice command.
So, if you have an Alexa-enabled product, like an Amazon Echo or even the Amazon app for Android and iOS, all you have to do is tell Alexa what you want to buy. Alexa immediately searches Amazon to find the product and confirms it has picked the item you want. If you respond with a "yes," the order is placed.
On its Alexa Voice Shoppingpage, Amazon says you can choose from the millions of products it offers, and to help you save a few bucks, you can even ask Alexa what deals there might be on certain products.
Still not exactly sure how it might work? Here's a scenario:
Let's just say you've been parched all day, and you're drinking bottle after bottle of Fiji water. Suddenly, you realize you're all out. Rather than drive to the store in the scorching summer heat, you decide to order a case through Amazon and have it delivered to your house.
So, you say, "Alexa, order Fiji Natural Artesian Water." Alexa will hear that and will respond by telling you that it's found an option on Amazon for a certain price. Then, Alexa will ask you if it's OK to order. If you're happy with the product Alexa found, you can say "yes," and your order will be placed.
Now, sit back, relax and wait for your water to arrive.
Where can I find Alexa Voice Shopping?
One of the nice things about Amazon Alexa is that it's ubiquitous. The virtual personal assistant runs on a host of devices, allowing you to interact with it to search the web, place online orders and keep track of your schedule.
Here's a list of devices that are compatible with Alexa Voice Shopping:
- Amazon Echo
- Amazon Tap
- Amazon Echo Dot
- Amazon Fire TV
- Amazon Fire Tablets
- Amazon app (available on iOS and Android)
Can I ask Alexa sophisticated questions?
Yes, Alexa Voice Shopping can understand sophisticated queries. So, for example, you can ask for specific brands of household goods.
Say you have a particular coffee brand you like. You can order it through Alexa Voice Shopping by saying, "Alexa, order Newman's Own K-Cups." Alexa will find it on Amazon and facilitate the purchase.
Don't go easy on Alexa — the virtual assistant can handle it.
Do I need to be a Prime member?
Technically, Alexa Voice Shopping is available to anyone who uses the aforementioned Amazon hardware or software. However, if you're a Prime member, Alexa Voice Shopping is far more useful.
If you want to place orders through one of Amazon's devices, you must be a Prime member who has 1-Click ordering enabled. If you're not a Prime member and do not have 1-Click ordering turned on, you won't be able to access Alexa Voice Shopping from one of Amazon's many devices.
If you plan to try out the voice service through the Amazon app, however, all that changes.
From the Amazon app, you can search for and add an item to your cart with voice commands issued through Alexa Voice Shopping. Better yet, you don't need to be a Prime member or have 1-Click ordering turned on to do it.
If you want to buy whatever you put into your cart, though, you need to head back to your app and manually place your order.
What is Amazon's Choice?
When you haven't bought certain items before and you're simply looking for recommendations within the product category, Alexa Voice Shopping will return results from the company's Amazon's Choice line of products.
Amazon's Choice is a curated collection of products, across a wide array of categories, that have high ratings and solid prices. Think of the Amazon's Choice collection as Amazon's picks for the best products in its store.
While Alexa Voice Shopping will allow you to pick the product, Amazon's Choice gives you quick access to some of the best products on the service.
How do I set up a confirmation code?
Although it's nice to be able to quickly add a product to your cart and buy it, that won't be helpful if you don't want to make a purchase right away.
To address those situations, Amazon allows you to set up a confirmation code with Alexa. So, after you ask to add something to the cart, Alexa won't actually charge your card and process the transaction until you provide your four-digit code.
To set up the confirmation code, you need to launch the Alexa app and go to Menu > Settings. From there, you can choose Voice Purchasing and set a four-digit code.
Once that code is saved, when you place an order, Alexa will ask if you'd like to proceed with the purchase by providing your four-digit code. If you ignore Alexa, your order will remain in the queue and will not process until you're ready.
When you are ready to buy, simply tell Alexa your code.
OK, I goofed. Can I cancel a purchase?
If you made an accidental purchase, all is not lost. But you'd better move quickly.
If you ordered through Amazon's 1-Click, you have 30 minutes to cancel it before it's completed.
To cancel an order within the allotted time frame, go to your Amazon account, and click on Your Orders. There, you'll see a list of orders and the option, if applicable, to Cancel Items. Next, you can check the box next to each item you want to cancel. When you're done, click "Cancel checked items."
Your order is now canceled.
Can I order more than one item with Alexa Voice Shopping?
Well, yes and no.
If you're hoping to buy two different items in the same order, you won't be able to do so with Alexa Voice Shopping. Instead, each request for products will be its own order. So, if you want to buy a new phone charger, shampoo, water and chips, all four items will be listed in separate orders.
However, if you want to buy more than one of a certain item, you can. So if you want two bags of chips, you can request your quantity, and Alexa will take care of the rest.
You can also create a shopping list to make multiple purchases easier. To create a shopping list, go to the menu in the top left corner of the Alexa app and select Lists, then Create List. You can also collaborate with family and roommates to make sure you get everything your household needs. To invite someone, select the list you want to collaborate on, and click on the "+Invite" button. Alexa will provide a link which you can send to others, or it can send an email to them automatically.