The Alexa Shopping Kit allows skill developers to sell products from within their skill and earn commissions

Staff Writer Jul 20, 2022
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Today, Amazon is announcing the launch of the Alexa Shopping Kit. It encompasses a comprehensive suite of features that allows skill developers to monetize their skill traffic by helping customers discover, research, and purchase relevant products available on Amazon. Through an embedded shopping experience within a skill, customers can purchase products that are recommended by developers within their skills – and developers will be able to earn a commission on qualifying referrals through the Amazon Associates on Alexa program.

Meditation has become an increasingly popular way to calm the mind, and for 1.4 million Spanish speakers and counting, Diana — an Alexa skill developed by the Spanish publishing company Grupo Planeta — is the mindfulness tool of choice. The Grupo Planeta team leveraged the flexibility of the Alexa Shopping Kit to surface products at relevant moments in time. 

“As the largest Spanish-speaking publishing company, we have to accept the responsibility to open new business opportunities by offering innovative solutions to our customers,” says Jokin Urraza, Innovation and Digital Transformation Director at Grupo Planeta. “We see the Alexa Shopping Kit as a great opportunity to bring our wellness books closer to customers in a new and innovative way.”

To stay respectful of the user experience, and not distract customers as they were using the skill, the team at Diana decided to offer information about their books at the end of a course.

“We only surface book recommendations when customers have a need for more information, and with the Alexa Shopping Kit, we are able to offer books at the most relevant moment in time,” says Urraza. “To build customer trust, we gave customers the option to add the product to their Amazon shopping cart. This way, they could choose not to buy the product if they changed their mind later. We are incredibly pleased with both the customer experience and the results we have seen with the Alexa Shopping Kit.”

In addition to providing customers with the ability to purchase products, developers can also use the Alexa Shopping Kit to drive product awareness and offer product recommendations.  

Ryan Jordan, the developer of the popular role-playing game The Dark Citadel is the author of several horror and science-fiction novels. Ryan used the Alexa Shopping Kit to drive awareness of his books among the players of his game.

“I integrated the Alexa Shopping Kit into my story-based skills,” says Jordan. “For me, it was a huge value add to be able to let users know about my books. Prior to the Alexa Shopping Kit, I estimate that one out of 1,000 players knew that I am a writer. Now, I have five people asking me every week about my books.”

A solution for every stage of the shopping journey

With the Alexa Shopping Kit, developers can engage customers at every stage of the shopping journey from discovery to purchase. Skill builders can minimize their code burden by simply choosing the products they want to surface and let Alexa do the heavy lifting of enabling shopping experiences within their skill. 

Discovery (Product recommendations and gifting ideas): The Alexa Shopping Kit has capabilities that will enable you to surface and recommend relevant new products or gifting recommendations to customers both when they are, and when they are not interacting with your skill. Developers can notify customers about: (i) New product launches (e.g., ‘Mass Effect Legendary Edition’ Xbox game is now available for purchase. To hear more details, just say “Alexa, open Xbox”) (ii) Gifting ideas (e.g., “Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Cadbury Silk Heart Pop has gift ideas for you. Would you like to hear more?”). Both of these capabilities will be tentatively available later in 2022.

Product Research (Answer customer questions): Consumers can ask questions about the product, like: “What are the Amazon reviews?,” “How much does it cost?” or “When can it be delivered?,” and make an informed decision. 

Purchase (Alexa Shopping Actions - Add to cart or wish list and Buy): Skill builders will have access to Shopping Actions that enable their customers to add recommended products to their Amazon cart, or shopping list on Amazon and buy the product. The 'Add to cart' and 'Buy' shopping actions are available in all Alexa locales while the 'Add to wish list' shopping action will be tentatively available later in 2022. Embed 'Add to cart' and 'Buy' experiences within your skill by reviewing this technical documentation

Post-purchase (Insights to deliver recommendations that customers seek): The Alexa Shopping Kit provides actionable insights to developers to help select the shopping experiences that resonate most with their customers. With these insights, skill builders are able to compare and contrast metrics for every product recommended by their skill and use this to identify and surface the ones that their customers like the most. At launch, developers will be able to access aggregate metrics for the ‘Add to cart’ and ‘Buy’ shopping actions, with additional insights becoming unlocked on an ongoing basis.

Making Money with the Alexa Shopping Kit

There are two ways to make money using the Alexa Shopping Kit:

1) Surface your own products within your skill: Skill builders can recommend their own products sold on Amazon and increase revenue resulting from the uptick in sales. For example, Red Bull surfaces its most popular energy drinks within its skill that lets its customers enjoy access to sports podcasts and more.

Ryan Jordan from LC Publishing uses this feature to surface recommendations related to books he has authored from his popular Dark Citadel Alexa game skill. 

“It’s a great way for me to connect with people who might be interested in my other creative ventures,” says Jordan. 

2) Earn commissions on qualifying products: Skill builders can earn up to 10% commission on qualifying product referrals through the Amazon Associates on Alexa program. They can earn commissions when customers buy eligible products surfaced within their skill or add those products to their cart, and complete their purchase later on Amazon. Amazon will calculate the commission earned based on qualifying purchases from the referrals and pay it out within 60 days following the end of each calendar month. Developers can keep track of their earnings on the developer console. 

wikiHow’s mission is to be the most trusted how-to site on the internet and it has an Alexa skill that offers users with helpful how-to-guides to pursue do-it-yourself tasks. It has found that a lot of times when its customers are trying to learn how to do something, they want to buy products to help them complete those tasks. The Alexa Shopping Kit has helped embed shopping experiences within its skill, as customers are now not only able to obtain answers but also purchase or add relevant products to their carts on Amazon. It also monetizes this experience using the Amazon Associates on Alexa program. 

"We are also happy to participate in the Amazon Associates on Alexa program that enables us to earn commissions on eligible product purchases on Amazon that are referred from our skill. It opens up an additional revenue channel for us and enables us to continue to invest in improving our customer experiences." says Elizabeth Douglas, CEO, wikiHow

Amazon Associates on Alexa will be generally available later in 2022.

Overall, we are only getting started with the Alexa Shopping Kit and will continue to add features that will enable skill builders to embed shopping experiences within their skill and earn additional revenue in the process.

"The features within the Alexa Shopping Kit have opened up a revenue stream that I couldn’t have unlocked on my own. This helps me continue to invest in authoring books my readers like and enabling engaging conversational experiences for players of my games," says Jordan."

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