Are You Going “Voice Shopping” on Amazon This Holiday Season?

Amazon Echo owners can do voice shopping on Amazon using Alexa, the virtual assistant

The world’s most followed retailer has just announced its holiday toy list for 2016, but it’s not the 1,000 hottest toys that grabbed our attention. It’s the fact that you can now do your holiday shopping using just your voice!

This year, owners of any Alexa-enabled device (Echo, Echo Tap and Echo Dot) will be able to ask Alexa to order items from Amazon’s huge catalog of holiday gifts. Users were already able to do it during the Prime Day celebration earlier this year, but the holiday season should see an uptick in the number of people that actually buy from Amazon using Alexa as their “shopping assistant.”

How Does Voice Shopping with Alexa Work?

The process is simple. You identify the product you want on your Amazon smartphone app or PC, then instruct Alexa to buy it for you. Alexa will then recommend the best prices from various sellers. You choose the price you want to pay, and ask Alexa to complete the order. Alexa will then put your credit card through and have the order shipping to your registered shipping address.

The process sounds simple enough, but behind the scenes there are complex algorithms at work to make sure Alexa understands you accurately, chooses the right products and processes the order properly.

This year has been a landmark one for voice assistants. Microsoft’s Cortana is more prominent on Windows 10, Siri came to Mac and Google Assistant is now available on the Pixel smartphone as well as Google Home smart speakers.

The race to get ahead in the artificial intelligent space has officially begun. Although the consumer electronics side of AI is limited in scope today, it won’t be long before we see some AI functionality in most electronic appliances and gadgets over the coming months and years.

Tech companies are increasingly partnering with other companies to infuse AI capability into their products. Companies like LG and Samsung have tied up with Amazon and Microsoft for their voice-controlled intelligent assistants on their refrigerators and other products, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Renault-Nissan are working with Microsoft on connected smart technologies for cars, and even Uber has acquired Otto, a company that specializes in self-driving truck technology.

Each one of these companies is trying to use artificial intelligence to create better products and lure customers away from the competition. And Amazon is no different. After the success they saw with their second Prime Day sale earlier this year, they’re going all out to break all sales records this holiday season, and Alexa will hopefully play a big part in raking in the cash for the retailer.

Unfortunately, Amazon always plays its cards close to its chest, so we won’t know how many people actually use Alexa for voice shopping, but we do know that Amazon Prime members had a head start on voice shopping during Prime Day.

This season, Amazon will likely see a spike in Echo sales, but what we’d really like to know is “how many shoppers are ready to voice-order their products this year?” That number should come out through shopper surveys as we get to the middle of the shopping season, and we’ll report it as soon as we find out.

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