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March 13, 2019Franklin Lobb
Many developers have created a skill using our fact sample skill template because it’s an easy way to get started in the world of voice. The premium facts sample skill (available in Node.js or Python) is similar in that it is an easy way to learn how in-skill purchasing (ISP) works. Using this sample skill and the monetization tool in the Alexa Developer Console, anyone can start building a monetized fact skill.
As you get started with ISP, you’ll find there are three types of in-skill products customers can buy:
Note: Consumables are a flexible in-skill product type but they are not part of the premium facts sample skill. Check out the Name the Show sample skill to learn more about consumable in-skill products.
The premise behind the premium facts sample skill is relatively simple – ask for a fact and you’ll get one. The premium facts sample skill introduces different categories of facts – history, science, and space – as premium content. Customers can make a one-time purchase to obtain access to one of the premium categories. Your version of the premium facts sample skill could have as many or as few different categories as you’d like (even just one). The premium facts sample skill also includes an all-access subscription so customers could just pay a monthly fee for access to all the premium content.
Each one of the premium categories corresponds to a one-time purchase in-skill product. In the sample skill, they are named “History Pack,” “Science Pack,” and “Space Pack.” Think about them like e-books that you can come back to read whenever you want. The subscription in-skill product provides a single gate to access all the premium content. Since we provided all access using the subscription, we named it “All Access.”
In this sample, we made the ISP design decision that customers can use either a one-time purchase or a subscription to access the same premium content. There is no requirement to allow customers two different ways to access the same premium content. You might decide that customers must use a one-time purchase or must use a subscription to access specific premium content or functionality.
Here’s the customer experience flow when a customer asks for a fact:
Notice that even if the customer decides not to make a purchase, the customer still gets a fact from either the free experience or the packs that have already been purchased.
One key point to remember – as the skill developer, you will never pay actual money to buy your in-skill product. Explore, play, and test the experience without worry about your credit card being charged for the in-skill products you create.
The premium facts sample skill is a great introduction to building monetized voice experiences. When you start experimenting with the sample, you’ll learn how to:
Note: While this premium facts sample skill is a great way to get started with ISP, we recommend using it to practice building monetized skills. I’d recommend taking your learnings from using this sample skill and apply them to your original voice idea before publishing to the Alexa Skills Store.
To get started with this sample, you need an Alexa developer account, and the sample skill located on GitHub (Node.js version or Python version). The step-by-step instructions will guide you through using the Alexa Developer Console to create your skill’s front and back end, as well as creating the in-skill products. You can test it out in the Alexa simulator in the developer console or on one of your Alexa-enabled devices.
While the purpose of the sample skill is to help you get familiar with how ISP works, there are additional in-skill product design and implementation aspects that we will cover in future blogs. As you’re exploring the premiums facts sample skill, I’d like to leave you with this question to consider: How should you organize your skill’s in-skill products?
As you decide how to organize your premium content into in-skill products, you’ll have to answer questions like: How many products? What type of product? What content is part of your free experience? This last one is one of the most important aspects. After all, a great free experience demonstrates to customers the quality of the content they’ll be paying for.
When you come up with your initial approach, you might find your approach does not match this sample’s approach, which to totally fine. Once you have come up with an approach, get feedback from some real customers. While you could just ask customers what they think (and that may be the best approach for early iterations), one of the best ways to get feedback from customers is to conduct a beta test. Stay tuned for future posts on these ISP topics.
We’re excited to see what you build with ISP. Tweet me @franklinlobb and I’d be happy to check it out!