Move over, Siri. Amazon Echo’s Alexa has shopping covered. People who use the Echo gadget and have a subscription to Amazon Prime can order eligible items from the online marketplace just by speaking out loud. Amazon calls the voice-controlled shopping function the somewhat awkward “voice purchasing.”
Here’s how Amazon explains the new shopping functionality:
Currently, you can order items you previously purchased from Amazon. To place an order, say the wake word followed by a request to order the item. For example, if you previously placed an order for laundry detergent, say, “Alexa, reorder laundry detergent.” If the item is eligible for purchase, Amazon Echo tells you the item name and cost, and then shows additional details about the item in the Amazon Echo App. When you want to place the order, say, “Yes.”
Amazon Echo uses default payment and shipping settings in the shopper’s account. It also allows accountholders to set up a speakable confirmation code or turn off the feature.
But what if you want to order something like toothpaste that you haven’t previously ordered from Amazon Prime?
If Amazon Echo doesn’t find the requested item in the shopper’s order history, or if the item is out of stock, it may suggest an item from Amazon’s Choice, “which picks highly-rated, well-priced products with Prime shipping.” Amazon Echo won’t always offer a Choice item, in which case it will add the requested item to the user’s Shopping list instead.
The Wall Street Journal was intrigued, wondering if Amazon would use the Amazon’s Choice designation beyond the Echo device.
Amazon spokesperson Kinley Pearsall told the Journal that Amazon’s Choice offers are selected with a variety of factors in mind, ranging from rating to shipping speed. “Pearsall said Amazon would not charge manufacturers to be part of Amazon’s Choice. Still, it is easy to imagine brands seeking to game the system to get their products to the top of the heap.”
According to the Amazon website, “Amazon Echo won’t always provide you with an Amazon’s Choice item. If Amazon’s Choice doesn’t find an item, Amazon Echo adds the requested item to your Shopping list instead.”
Slashgear was the first to report on this new functionality.