In-Skill Purchasing Comes To The UK

James “JP “ Poulter
Jul 8 · 3 min read

If you’re familiar with the Voice First industry, you’ll have seen some celebration about the roll-out of in-skill purchasing (ISP). But what exactly does ISP entail — and why is it important?

Regardless of whether you’re a Voice newbie or a seasoned skill-maker, we’re going to break down what ISP means for the Voice economy.

If you fancy watching instead of reading, here’s Jen and JP chatting ISP on YouTube:

Still here? Great.

What am I actually buying when I engage in ISP?

In-skill purchasing was available for about a year in the US before Amazon made it international through a roll-out to the UK, Germany and Japan. (Canada, India and Australia are being eyed up for the next wave.)

Alexa users in these countries can now buy digital goods using their voice alone.

We tend to see three main types of digital goods available to buy:

  1. subscription to a skill (monthly or yearly)
  2. one-off purchase of a skill
  3. consumables — products you use up before purchasing again, such as hints and tips, or extra lives and add-ons for games

But we already had Amazon Pay…

Nearly half of regular voice assistant users have shopped using the medium (The SUMO Heavy 2019 Voice Commerce Survey).

So why is ISP grabbing headlines?

In-skill purchasing only comes into play when you’re buying something inside, or related to, a single Amazon Alexa skill. Buying groceries, tickets, and other items through an Alexa assistant utilises Amazon Pay: a totally different (and well-established) system.

What difference is ISP making to the Alexa landscape?

In short, ISP totally changes the way in which brands and skill-makers create and get paid for content.

Up until now, making money from skills in the UK has been a case of hoping for some luck via fame or brand endorsement. As EU Lead Evangelist Max Amordeluso explained on Amazon Alexa’s Developer Blog,

“ISP enables Alexa skill developers and content creators to make money by selling premium content that enriches the voice experience.”

The introduction of ISP means content can easily earn an income — similar to how paywalls on other media platforms work. Skill makers can now publish a small amount of freely available content (perhaps a short story, or news snippet) with a call to action at the end to encourage listeners to purchase a subscription or consumable.

ISP roll-out affects the whole of the Voice First ecosystem. Alexa users around the world who choose to purchase will soon be consuming more content of higher quality. We believe that, in turn, will lead to brands taking Voice more seriously.


If you know you need to optimise your content for voice search - or if you’re thinking of building an Amazon Alexa Skill - get in touch with us at Vixen Labs. Booking a Voice First workshop is a comprehensive initial step to working out how these technologies will transform your brand.

Vixen Labs

News and perspectives from the Vixen Labs team. Voice First Strategy, Experience and Marketing specialists.

James “JP “ Poulter

Written by

CEO and Co-Founder of Vixen Labs, Innovation and Marketing through voice and conversational technology. Professional Podcast Host & Speaker.

Vixen Labs

News and perspectives from the Vixen Labs team. Voice First Strategy, Experience and Marketing specialists.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade