Amazon reportedly reached out to a number of top brands that make physical goods and asked them to insert Alexa and voice shopping into their ads, in exchange for analytics data and Amazon's help in developing Alexa Skills for their products. Messages that Amazon reportedly sent to the makers of household staples involved the company asking them to include some kind of product placement for the company's Alexa AI ecosystem, in order to help bolster consumers' view of shopping by voice.
Background: Amazon has been one of the biggest forces pushing for the rise of shopping by voice, and for good reason. Amazon Alexa-enabled devices make up the largest share of smart speakers and other home-based and AI-enabled devices owned by consumers these days, and there are vast numbers of different use cases. When asked to shop, Alexa devices will order from Amazon by default. There's tons of money to be made in a way that spells more convenience for consumers, but for a number of reasons, many don't seem willing to embrace voice shopping as tightly as Amazon would hope. The ecommerce giant is hoping that this push, should companies play along, will serve to legitimize voice shopping. Essentially, if people see voice shopping becoming ubiquitous in advertising, they will get the impression that it's popular, convenient, and easy to use. In reality, shopping by voice can be a rough experience fraught with setup and missing information, but the endgame really is smooth and easy shopping. With Alexa, brands can set up whatever Skills they want to help consumers place their orders, and all those would-be buyers have to do, in most cases, is ask their smart speaker to buy a certain product from a certain brand. Some outlying use cases may make that a big ask, though; some consumers like to be choosy with their products when it comes to certain varieties, like parents needing baby wipes for sensitive skin, while other consumers may have limited funding and be unsure of what kind of confirmation regarding price, quantity, or even order regularity they may receive when voice shopping.
Impact: The impact here all depends on just how willing companies are to play Amazon's game. Should things go as Amazon plans, it's a win-win. Companies will sell more products when people don't have to leave home or even fire up their smartphones to get those products, and Amazon, as the catalyst of those interactions, will see more sales as a result. As to the alternative, the effort could flop, or consumers may simply ignore the push. While Amazon seems dead set on getting voice shopping to a place of legitimacy, if it just doesn't happen, the company may move on to another way to push consumers toward using its platform to order food staples, toiletries, and other daily household goods that they're going to buy anyway. The "must-buy" market is absolutely massive, and Amazon has been fighting to get as big a piece of that pie as possible for some time now. This push to normalize voice shopping may just be how the company finally accomplishes that goal.