Amazon has announced the general availability of two Alexa Shopping Actions - ‘Add to cart’ and ‘Buy’ in all Alexa locales. Alexa Shopping Actions enables skill builders to embed shopping experiences within their skill. Starting today, developers can immediately enable experiences that allow customers to add products to their cart, or purchase a product from directly within the skill.
“All the skill developer has to do is specify the products they want to recommend,” says Girish, Tech Leader at Alexa Shopping. “Alexa handles the request end-to-end so you won’t have to build a shopping cart or request additional information from the customer, such as their shipping address or payment information.”
Alexa Shopping Actions delegate control to Alexa Shopping using Alexa Skill Connections, which enable an Alexa skill to use another skill to perform a specific task.
“The skill developer owns a major part of the customer experience,” Girish explains. “You might want to recommend your own products or products from other sellers on Amazon. You decide when to surface them to your customers. Then, when the customer wants to shop, there is a hand-off to Alexa Shopping Actions behind the scenes. For example, customers can order that handy kitchen gadget or hard-to-find spice directly within an Alexa cooking skill without having to take any additional actions.”
At all times, developers will be able to access metrics from within the developer console that give them deeper insights into customer shopping behaviors, so that they can serve up more relevant shopping experiences and grow revenue.
While the two Alexa Shopping Actions are generally available to developers today, Girish has gleaned insights from the experiences of skill builders who have deployed the feature thus far. Below, he provides five tips for developers to create a better shopping experience using Alexa Shopping Actions.
1. Complete the customer request first
Rather than offering specific product recommendations at the beginning of the experience, Girish advises first giving the customer what they came for and then following up with shopping suggestions. “For example, in a yoga skill, you’d first complete the customer’s request, which is the yoga workout,” Girish explains. “Then, at the end of the training, you can say, ‘Would you be interested in a yoga mat recommendation?’
2. Create customer awareness that your skill is now offering shopping experiences
“Introduce your customer to the shopping experience without being intrusive,” says Girish. Because many customers won’t be aware that they can now make purchases within their favorite Alexa skills, skill builders can announce the fact that shopping within the skill is available. “To increase conversions, it’s more effective to go with a softer sell, such as, ‘By the way, we are also offering product recommendations if you’re interested.’ You can even add a shopping cart, a different shopping imagery, or button for customers using a device with a screen to let the customers know that you can shop within the skill.
3. Keep products relevant to the skill
By offering product recommendations in their specific area of expertise, developers can cultivate trust, meet customers’ immediate needs, and drive sales. For example, many developers achieve success when recommending books related to the topic at hand. “Stay thematically aligned with your content category and avoid going off-brand,” Girish advises. “Recommend products that are related to what the customer is doing at that moment, what that customer might need, and what they associate with your skill.
4. Gamify the shopping experience
If you have more than one product recommendation, developers can make the shopping experience more engaging by matching customers with the right products and drive sales. Girish recommends incorporating fun experiences into the skill, such as quizzes that lead to product recommendations. “For example, in a makeup a skill, you could say, ‘Answer these three questions to help me recommend the products that are just right for you,’ says Girish.
5. Provide gift recommendations
By offering gift recommendations tied to upcoming holidays, skill builders can provide a helpful service while driving customer purchases. “This can be as simple as saying, ‘By the way, this skill can give you gift recommendations for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, etc.,’ says Girish.
Embed shopping experiences within your skill by reviewing this technical documentation.