Amazon’s Echo devices have been billed as its incursion into our homes. The thinking was that Amazon would ensnare users with this device who would integrate them into their lives and then naturally use them to shop for products on Amazon.
An average user would get an Alexa device and integrate into the Amazon ecosystem. Such a user would subscribe to Prime and play music with Prime Music, and when the urge strikes them, order goods from their Echo while engaged in other activities. Such a user seems to more of a fantasy than a reality.
According to a report from The Information, only 2% of Amazon Echo users used the device to make a purchase with voice. Of those numbers, 90% never tried again.
Alexa is used more broadly in the context of shopping to track product and ask for deals, with the actual shopping being offloaded to other devices.
“Millions of customers use Alexa to shop because it is the most convenient way to capture needs in the moment,” an Amazon spokeswoman told the Information this week,“We want to enable customers to shop in whatever way is easiest for them.”
Of course, that seems natural in hindsight. There are a few times when people buy products sight unseen, and if you’re shopping on Amazon you would surely want the ability to compare with cheaper products something you can do visually but not aurally.
It would be very inefficient to simply purchase something in the manner that Amazon thinks Alexathinks we would, and contradictory to the way real-life humans act.
The information suggests that the key to growing voice shoppers might be to finding out what’s special about the small number of people who do engage with Alexa, and seeing if there’s something that can be exploited.
For Amazon, that’s certainly a question being asked.