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Product recommendations come to voice skills with Alexa Shopping Kit

The new tools allow skill developers to embed discovery and purchasing of products within the voice experience.

An Amazon echo dot on a table
Alexa has new shopping tools. (Photo by Andres Urena on Unsplash)

Amazon has new tools to build shopping into its voice-enabled experiences.

At a Wednesday event to announce new features for the voice tech developer community dubbed Alexa Live 2022, Amazon unveiled the Alexa Shopping Kit.

This creates a way for developers to embed product recommendations within an Alexa skill, which is an application for a smart speaker that allows it to perform tasks, provide information and connect to content.

Customers can also purchase the products that are surfaced. As for what to recommend, developers have a couple of options: For one, they can surface info about their own products. Starting later in 2022, they will also be able to earn a commission on qualifying products through a program known as Amazon Associates on Alexa.

Amazon breaks down the phases in which developers can use Alexa Shopping Kit to add product info and gain insights on the following levels:

  • Discovery: Surface new product or gifting recommendations for customers, including alerts about product launches.
  • Product research: Customer can ask questions about a product, such as “What are the Amazon reviews?,” “How much does it cost?” or “When can it be delivered?”
  • Purchase: Developers can build a path for customers to add a product to their cart or shopping list, and buy the product.
  • Post-purchase insights: Amazon is providing developers with metrics so they can compare and contrast the engagement with recommendations that were made. In turn, they can determine which recommendations customers liked most. Metrics will be available for the “Add to cart” and “Buy” shopping action at launch, with more expected to be unlocked in the near future.

Amazon’s announcement about the shopping kit offered a number of examples about how it is being used.

Spanish publishing company Grupo Planeta is providing product recommendations within a mindfulness tool it offers on Alexa. This information about books are offered at the end of a course, so as not to be disruptive to the listening experience within the primary content.

Ryan Jordan, who developed the role-playing game The Dark Citadel, integrated information about books he authored for the game into story-based skills.

wikiHow has integrated product recommendations and purchasing into a skill that offers how-to guides. With Associates on Alexa commission program, it has monetized these recommendations.

It all points the way toward voice-enabled experiences where brands and creators are not just offering advertising in skills, but making them shoppable.

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