Shopping by voice
I’ve been doing a demo recently of UCIC’s Lexa app (our integration with Alexa Voice Service). I say “Order some batteries”. The response is:
“Based on Leor’s order history, I’ve found Amazon Basics batteries AA — 48 pack. It’s $23.75 total. Should I order it?”
If I say “OK” or “yes”, the order is placed. I can also then say “cancel order” to cancel the last order.
This seems like a benign element of voice interaction but it is the life blood and main argument behind the billions of dollars being poured into ambient voice interaction. It only takes a small increase in the number of household purchases to be captured to present a large ROI to Amazon or other companies in the space.
But is it practical?
From personal use, I can’t yet say. My AVS / Echo account is tied to a US-based Amazon Prime account and the result is that most items don’t ship to Canada or the shipping cost is prohibitive (which is why I was surprised when the ordering actually started to work and I received a pack of batteries a week after my voice order).
At a conceptual level, it is very practice. It is so much more convenient to re-order coffee, a burnt-out light bulb, or dish soap by voice than to go to an app, search for the product, and re-order.
Amazon’s first foray into home voice was through the Amazon Fresh Dash device. The problem was that you needed to find the device wherever you last placed it to add to a shopping list, rather than just waking up the Echo.
Other products on the market, like the Hiku, work similarly — but they also allow for shopping on PeaPod and Walmart.
We’re now seeing the next evolution of voice shopping happen with the tie-in of services like travel and taxis (Lyft and Uber) through voice. Eventually, instead of us commanding these, the devices will predict our consumption and prompt us for permission to order.