The whole point of all the gizmos, gadgets and freebies doled out by Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) is to make it so easy for consumers to buy from Amazon that shopping anywhere else becomes a big pain in the neck. The latest example is the company’s roll-out Tuesday of a new feature tied to its Alexa voice-command program: ordering an item from Prime Now, the company’s two-hour free delivery service.
Not only can consumers order routine items from tortilla chips to diapers, in Seattle, Columbus and Cincinnati, they’ll be able to order cold beer, wine, and spirits (Seattle only) with a simple voice command.
Amazon Prime costs $99 a year and includes free two-day shipping on eligible items and, in some cities, Prime Now, which offers a one- and two-hour delivery service. Other membership perks include video and music streaming, photo storage, and a lending library for Kindle books.
Prime Now voice-ordering works with the company’s Echo, Echo Dot, Tap, Fire tablet and Fire TV. Here’s how Amazon describes the way it works:
It’s as simple as saying, “Alexa, order [product] from Prime Now” — Alexa will recommend a product within the Prime Now catalogue and once confirmed add it to the customer’s order. Customers can add as many items as they want and Alexa can offer suggestions based on the other items in their current order. Once the minimum order amount is reached, Alexa will automatically choose the next available 2-hour delivery slot. Alexa voice shopping through Prime Now is available in more than 30 Prime Now eligible cities. To shop with Alexa through Prime Now, customers must be Prime members with a default payment and shipping address.
Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL) added voice ordering for about 50 retailers to its Google Home device last month, and Samsung announced Monday that its voice-command system, called Bixby, will be available on the S8 and S8+ smartphones due out next week.