Amazon Pushes Alexa for Prime Deals, But Some Shoppers Resist

  • Sales event an opportunity to encourage new shopping habits
  • Most consumers prefer using a mouse and their fingertips

Amazon's Echo Show: Do You Need Another Screen?

Amazon.com Inc. will once again encourage deal-seekers to shop with their voices during its third-annual Prime Day sales event next week by offering discounts exclusive to people using the Alexa voice-activated platform to place orders. But most shoppers would prefer to just use their computer mouse or fingertips to put things in their shopping carts.

More than 100 deals will be available starting Wednesday for bargain-hunters using Amazon’s Echo speakers, Fire TV and other voice-activated devices, Amazon said. Voice shoppers will also have early access to some Prime Day deals two hours before the general public beginning July 10th. Amazon has offered similar deals last year and during the holiday season.

By saying: “Alexa, what are your deals,” Prime customers can get a rotating, daily list of offers through July 17. New members who sign up for the Prime service on an Echo device will get their first year of membership for $79, a $20 discount over the regular price.

Some of the products available starting today through Alexa include a $50 savings on a Bose Soundlink Bluetooth speaker III; a $20 discount on a Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus; and $6 off Greenies dog treats.

More than half of consumers have no interest in such deals, however, since they lack trust in Alexa to get their orders correct or just find shopping via voice inconvenient, according to a survey of shoppers by the bargain hunters site DealNews.com. The devices have been a surprise hit for Amazon and users enjoy streaming music, setting kitchen timers and getting recipes by voice command. But shopping through the devices hasn’t resonated, said Benjamin Glaser, features editor at DealNews.

"The obstacle isn’t using your voice. It’s adding a step to the transaction and making a buying decision with less information. That’s the challenge," he said. "It just doesn’t seem to have any advantages."

Amazon introduced its first cylindrical Echo speaker in 2014. The devices cost as much as $200 and have become a surprise hit for a company that had struggled with some of its other consumer hardware. The gadgets are made for use at home, when people might not have a smartphone handy and where portability isn’t an issue.

Seattle-based Amazon sees voice as the next big way to access technology in internet-connected homes, similar to a mouse for the personal computer and touchscreen on a smartphone. Amazon introduced a $50 version of the Echo called the dot last year, which helped boost sales of the devices during the holidays. The latest $230 "Echo Show" features a screen and could make shopping via voice command less confusing since shoppers can see their shopping lists while placing orders.

“This is going to be the most exciting Prime Day yet for voice shoppers,” said Assaf Ronen, Vice President Voice Shopping, in a statement. “Prime members have asked, ‘Alexa, what are your deals?’ more than three million times since we launched Alexa deals last year, and we’re thrilled to deliver even better deals this year.”

On Prime Day last year, Amazon offered $10 off those ordering via voice for the first time and had only about 80,000 voice orders that day.

For more on the Amazon Echo, check out the Decrypted podcast:

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