During their last event, Amazon announced a new feature, that of Alexa Shopping Actions, and everyone is excited. In short, what does this mean? Thanks to Alexa Shopping Actions it is possible to add a new shopping experience to the Skills. In fact, users can add products to the Amazon cart without leaving the skill.
Brands have a new incentive to launch an Alexa skill, in this ambiguous reality of voice marketing. They are no longer limited to implementing experiential and engagement-oriented applications. Alexa Shopping Actions now allows them to use Alexa as a new channel for direct sales.
Amazon experience, new features are announced
More than 140 million home products are currently controlled by Amazon Alexa. This confirms the commodity and joy such technology has brought to families and their everyday life. But what holds the future? Amazon announced some incredible news during their live event on 21 July that will impact developers, businesses, and end-users. One of them is Alexa shopping actions, which we will explain later on in this article.
As mentioned above, earlier this week, Amazon made many announcements. How voice commerce would work in the future and gave developers a chance to get involved was the hot topic. They have announced that there will be a new way to use Alexa Skills called Alexa Shopping Actions. With this new feature, third-party developers will be able to drive sales through Alexa.
In addition, this feature will give customers the ability to order items with their voice and receive products quickly.
What else is to be expected?
Amazon features for echo devices starting from Alexa shopping actions: here are some of the most important ones are as per below:
- Featured skill cards – It will make it possible for every Echo device equipped with a display to receive a promotion. When? For new Alexa Skills even if you haven’t asked for them.
- Food Skill APIs – It enables the creation of high quality experiences for food delivery and pickup Skills.
- Event-Based Triggers and Proactive Suggestions: One example we can make is when you are getting ready to go to work, or for a walk, you can opt in to have a skill proactively suggest that you lock your home.
- Alexa Entities – This will allow every Alexa Skill developer access Alexa’s knowledge graph when dealing with general answers.
- Send to phone – It allows every Alexa user that when they are using a skill they can go to the Alexa smartphone app, from voice to mobile.
“Our vision for Alexa is to be an ambient assistant that is proactive, personal, and predictable, everywhere customers want her to be. This enables them to do more and think about technology less.”Jeff Blankenburg: Principal Technical Evangelist, Alexa
What are the alexa shopping actions?
In order to make it clearer what Alexa Shopping Actions are, let’s define them somehow:
|What are Alexa Shopping Actions?|
Alexa Shopping Actions, a new program from Amazon, is a way for developers of Alexa skills to promote the sale of any product sold by Amazon.com within their skills. For example, if someone had an Alexa skill about cooking and they wanted to promote a product, it could be anything from an oven mitt to a set of knives—regardless of whether or not it belonged to the brand that created the skill.
Amazon wants to make it easier for customers to purchase items. Simply by vocalizing their answer, people can decide to follow or not with ease. If a customer agrees to make a purchase, Amazon will take them through the shopping process. This will not disrupt the third-party skill they are using. Once the purchase goes through, Alexa will return the customer to where they left off in the third-party skill.
The new user journey for buying and selling on Alexa
The retailer’s hope on voice commerce through Amazon Alexa was vanishing each day passing by. Only a small percentage of Alexa customers have bought on Amazon through smart speakers. The ambiguity of voice marketing declined the belief in the growth of Alexa skills. Amazon has started to create incentives for developers to add monetization and affiliation such as Alexa shopping actions.
Let’s look at the user journey for buying and selling on Alexa before Alexa shopping actions. Two years ago making a purchase was the last thing a smart speaker user would demand from Alexa. According to McKinsey’s insights on personalization and market tech, only 26% of users engaged in voice commerce.
Who had the most success? Previously brands that are providing a certain good have performed better when it comes to voice commerce and voice shopping. Starbucks and Pizza Hunt have products that do not require much research, a pizza is a pizza and coffee is a coffee.
Let’s look at the user journey for buying and selling on Alexa after Alexa shopping actions. Skills users will now be offered the opportunity to purchase a certain product during a normal skill flow. Imagine hearing in the middle of an Alexa skill a short promotion that invites you to buy an echo dot. The user can decide to ignore or accept the promotion.
If they ignore it, the skill continues its normal flow. If they accept, the voice shopping experience starts and ends with the confirmation of the order. When the order is finished, the user will continue to interact with the voice skill as if nothing happened. Via shopping templates, users will be able to recommend a product, browse multiple products and even find a product.
Alexa Shopping Actions impact on affiliate marketing
Up till now, Skill publishers could monetize their Alexa Skill only through in-skill purchasing of premium features & options and for one-time access to premium content and updates. Of course, there are also Alexa Skills created specifically for voice purchasing like Domino’s Alexa Skill. It allows you to make orders and have them delivered to your address with Amazon Pay taking care of the details and payment.
Taking a good look at how Shopping Actions work, we can say it has created space for a more direct Affiliate Marketing through Alexa Skills.
Considering that the Alexa Skill publisher can receive up to 10% commission or affiliate fee, it sounds like Affiliate Voice Marketing.
Skill publishers will need to make the right choice when deciding to promote certain product/s through Shopping Actions. By doing so, it should only add value to their voice user experience.
Also, we need to consider it might become a form of self-sustainability for many low-budget Alexa Skill publishers.
Pros and cons of enabling such a feature
With millions of Alexa skills, billions of devices, and many developers, Amazon still lacks a way of helping customers find the skills they need. This has been and might continue to be a challenge even with Alexa shopping actions on voice-only devices. Amazon is trying to do this through personalized skills suggestions based on the usage history of Alexa skills from a certain user.
Considering what Alexa Shopping Actions are about to bring, there are two sides to consider:
The bright side
On one side, this feature goes hand to hand with what voice assistants are all about: making things easier to get done. From smart home devices, receiving news and weather updates to alarms and reminders. They go all the way to making it simpler to order food, a taxi, and also products from Amazon.com.
When it comes to easy-to-buy products, the ones we use daily, or one the Skill user already knows, having a successful transaction should be that hard. Also, with the Shopping Templates Amazon Alexa has prepared for Skill publishers who will want to incorporate a Shopping Action, the experience can be less intrusive for the users.
The not so bright side
Alexa Shopping Actions still contain the same issues Voice Shopping has always had. Unless you have a smart speaker with a device, it’s going to be hard to have a full perspective on what is being offered to you. Also, we should also consider that this feature might cause disruption to what we are used to till now. If you are listening to a podcast or maybe a cooking menu, and you have it paused from a product suggestion, it might not be a pleasant experience for some.
However, considering how easy it is to stop it or go to another skill with a simple voice command, user selectivity will make sure to set things to a natural order in the everyday user experience.