How to Design for In-Skill Purchasing

Offer the Right Premium Content

Premium vs. Free

Before we start selling content, we need to spend some time to think about what we want to offer our customers. As part of the requirements for publishing a monetized experience, the skill MUST offer some free content. So, we’ll need to figure out where to draw the line between free and premium.

Whether you’re adding premium content to an existing skill or building from scratch, it’s important to deliver a well designed engaging experience that inspires your customer to want to purchase your content.

When adding premium content to an existing skill, Amazon doesn’t allow previously free content to be put behind a pay wall. Free content, once published, will have to remain free. When you submit your skill for certification you’ll want to make sure that it adheres to the In-Skill Purchasing Skills Certification guidelines.

For Seattle Super Trivia, we have decided to offer five trivia questions per day for free, which we will refer to as the Free Five.

This allows our customer to:

  1. Learn how to use the skill.
  2. Experience the game.
  3. Yearn for more content.

It allows us to:

  1. Hook our customer with our content
  2. Build trust with our customer
  3. Fulfill their desire for more content

This ongoing daily free content is our chance to hook our customer and earn their business. Later on, in this course we’ll go over how and when to tell customers about our premium experience and how to buy it.

It’s perfectly OK to offer a free trial as part of your free content offering. In that case, when your customer accepts the free trial they will be immediately signed up and able to experience the premium experience. Once the trial has ended they will be charged recurringly until they cancel.

Understanding Premium Content Types

In order to offer a compelling premium experience, it helps to understand the types you have at your disposal to offer to your customers. These are called in-skill purchases since they take place inside your skill. In-skill purchases allows customers to purchase a digital "good". There are three types of in-skill purchases:

  1. Subscription
  2. One-time Purchase
  3. Consumable

Now that we know the three types of in-skill purchases, let’s take a moment to learn what they are and how we are using them in the context of Seattle Super Trivia.

In-skill purchases are limited to digital offerings tied to your skill. If you’d like to sell physical goods such as fishing rods, water filters, tents, etc., you’ll need to use amazon pay. This course only focuses on digital goods, however, you can find more information on the Amazon Pay for Alexa Skills Overview page.


What: Allows customers to pay a flat recurring fee for access to content until they cancel.

Since our customer will be paying a recurring fee, they will be expecting fresh content regularly. We will want to make sure our content meets at least one of the following best practices for subscriptions:

  1. Provides a large catalog of content.
  2. Provides an experience that cannot be consumed entirely within the access period offered.
  3. Updates content frequently on a scheduled basis.

Seattle Super Trivia: Our free experience provides five trivia questions daily - the Free Five. For our premium experience, we chose to offer a subscription, which we’ll refer to as the High Five to grant access to five additional questions daily including weekends.

Since we are providing new content daily that will never run out, our subscription meets all three of the best practices.

One-time Purchase

What: Allows customers to buy content or features in a skill. They never expire.

You’ll want to make sure your content meets at lease one of the following best practices:

  1. Provides value
  2. Remixes or enhances the experience
  3. Inspires the customer to reuse it

Seattle Super Trivia: We chose to offer themed question packs that will be added to a library of extra content such as the "Seattle History" and "Seattle Celebrities" packs that our customer will be able to access and finish at their leisure as many times as they want.

How did we do? Just like our subscription, we’ve hit all three best practices.

It’s not necessary to hit all three. It’s MOST important to ensure that you’re offering something that your customer will want to pay money to experience.


What: Allows customers to purchase content or features that can be depleted and purchased again.

They are best used when they provide:

  1. temporary enhancements
  2. temporary extensions of content

Seattle Super Trivia: We chose to offer hints when our customer is stuck. Hints aren’t necessary to play the game but provide a way for our customer to get back on track if they are unsure of the answer.

Our consumables are designed to supplement the experience but aren’t required. We don’t want to make our customer feel as if they have to pay to win.

Drawing the line between free and premium content

As mentioned before, skills must offer some free content in order to pass certification. Our free content offering is our chance to hook our customer with a preview of our content. We want to offer enough free content to build enough trust and intrigue with the customer, so they feel compelled to say "yes" to learn more about an in-skill purchase when we offer one. There’s no exact number or percentage of free to paid content that you should offer. It depends on the unique content in your skill so you’ll want find the balance between too much and too little free content. If you give too much free content away, your customers may not be inclined to purchase the premium experience.

While designing Seattle Super Trivia, we asked ourselves four questions to help us determine what to offer for free:

  1. How much content will a customer need to experience to understand the skill’s functions?
  2. What kinds of content do customers already pay for today on other digital platforms? How much content should be free before asking for payment?
  3. What content would a customer find so valuable or entertaining, they would pay to continue engaging with it?
  4. Will upselling premium content enhance – or detract from – the customer experience?

These questions helped us determine our free and premium offerings for Seattle Super Trivia. Take a look at the table below to see how we broke up the content:

Content Type Notes
Free Five Free Five free questions daily. Enough for a brief but memorable session. Balance is key. One is too few, but offering too many may discourage a purchase.
High Five Subscription Access to the daily High Five bonus round.
Themed trivia packs One-time purchase Themed packs for customers who don’t want the experience to end.
Free daily hints Consumable Life perserver to help keep the player in the game, but isn’t required to win.

We also decided to let the player replay their daily questions as many times as they want, however it won’t affect their score. That way, multiple people in a household can enjoy the skill’s content.

Now that we know what we want to sell, we need to put some thought into how much we should charge.

Setting the price

How much you can charge for content depends on the type of in-skill purchase you’re offering. The chart below shows the minimum and maximum price you can charge for a in-skill purchase per type.

Table 1. Pricing per content type

Subscription One-time Purchase Consumable
$0.99 - $99.99 $0.99 - $99.99 $0.99 - $9.99

When deciding what to charge for your content, think in terms of what kind of experience the purchase buys, and how long that experience lasts. If you’re making a game, that might be measured in terms of hours of play, while subscribing to a radio service might include total potential hours of listening.


  • What is the replay value? Once? Multiple? Infinitely re-mixable?
  • How long will it take to finish the content?

Once you’ve determined your premium content offering, you’ll need to figure out how to surface it to your customers. When you’re ready to learn how, click the link below.