Starting today, developers can sell consumables in their Alexa skills in the US to further enrich the skill experience with in-skill purchasing. A consumable is an in-skill product that customers can purchase, use, and then purchase again. In addition to one-time purchases and subscriptions, consumables give developers more ways to deliver premium experiences to customers. With consumables, you can sell products that are relevant in the moment to customers as they experience your skill.
For example, consider a trivia skill that offers customers a pack of hints. If a customer gets stuck on a question, rather than get the question wrong, they can purchase and use hints to keep the round going. When they run out of hints, they have the option to purchase again. Consumables are a great way to keep your customers engaged during pivotal moments of your skill and drive revenue for your voice business.
How Developers Are Building Skills with Consumables
As part of a private beta, developers used consumables to elevate their voice-first experience. While consumables are most common in the game and trivia space, Alexa developers are using this feature creatively across various categories to drive engagement with their skills. See below for some examples:
- Would You Rather for Family (Voice Games) – In this family-friendly game, you have to make a choice between two lighthearted and silly situations, such as “Would you rather have bad breath or smelly feet” or “Would you rather forget to pack your neck pillow or your headphones.” The free version of the skill contains general questions and the premium version offers themed questions, such as Superheroes, Travel, and Halloween. You can purchase a 7-day pass to access all of the available themed premium packs. After 7 days, your access returns to the free version.
- Yes Sire (Volley) – In this medieval role-play game, you, the Sire, are presented with a series of difficult decisions with consequences that impact your wealth and influence, which are measured on a scale from 0 to 100. If either score reaches zero, the game will end, or you can purchase 50 extra points to keep the game going.
- Hypno Therapist (Innomore LLC) – In this relaxing skill, you can access therapy sessions administered by clinical hypnotist Barry Thain. Each therapy session is intended to help you with a specific goal, such as appreciating yourself and feeling fabulous. You can purchase a bundle of 10 hypnotherapy sessions from a catalog of 70+ therapies. Once you use up all 10, you have the option to purchase a new bundle.
Coming Soon: In addition to the above skills that are already live, we are excited to announce that Sony Pictures Television will soon launch a skill for their hit trivia game, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. In this skill, if you get stuck on a question, you can purchase one-time-use lifelines.
Getting Started with Consumables
Similar to one-time purchases and subscriptions, you can use the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) Command-Line Interface (CLI) to build and manage your consumables. An important feature to note when building consumables versus a one-time purchase or subscription is the inventory management function required to monitor consumable usage. For example, in a game skill where a customer purchases a pack of three additional lives, you will need to know how many of those lives they have left in order to present them with relevant in-skill content. And, you will need to know when they’ve run out of lives in order to offer them the product again. To do this, you will use a database and offer an inventory intent. Learn more about inventory management for consumables here. You can also check out technical documentation here.
To reference an example as you get started, check out Name The Show, a skill built by Alexa evangelist Jeff Blankenburg, and see how he incorporates consumables into the skill experience. This trivia skill tells you the name of an actor and you have to guess the show that Alexa is thinking of. If you’re stuck, you can purchase five hints to keep the round going. Each hint gives you the name of an additional actor from the show. When you run out of hints, you are presented the option to buy more. Tip: you can access the code for this skill on GitHub, here.
Other Ways to Build Skills with Consumables
In addition to using the ASK CLI, you can use tools provided by Storyline and Voice Apps to build skills with consumables as well as one-time purchases and subscriptions. Storyline and Voice Apps offer a visual design approach to skill building that makes it easy for everyone to build skills, from people with zero coding experience to advanced developers.
Register for Our Webinar to Learn More
Check out technical documentation here. If you have questions, check out our FAQs, attend Office Hours (no sign up required) or chime in on our developer forums. You can also register for our webinar on “Building Alexa Skills with Consumables” webinar on Tuesday, October 16, from 10-11am PST, to learn more.
We can’t wait to see the premium experiences you build with consumables.