Design the Purchase Flows for In-Skill Products
When you add in-skill purchasing (ISP), you need to think about ways to provide a premium experience for your customers. In-skill products should enhance the experience of the skill and provide value to the customer beyond the free skill content.
When you add in-skill purchasing to your skill, you design the purchase suggestion and the handoff to Alexa to complete the purchase. After the purchase flow completes, you design the flow back to your skill. You also design flows for cancellation and refund. Paid skills can use the one-time purchase or subscription payment model.
Best practices for engaging customers
When you create skills that are highly engaging, user-centric, and built on a foundation of trust, you build a loyal customer base for your skills. Your free content is a showcase of what your skill can do and a foundation on which you can build compelling premium content that can further engage customers. When you offer in-skill purchasing, the purchased product should extend or enhance the skill experience beyond the free skill experience. For best practices to follow when you design voice-first interactions, see the Alexa Design Guide.
Types of in-skill products
Allow customers to pay a flat monthly fee for access to content or services, such as monthly access to all content channels in a radio broadcast skill or tiered access to channels (sports, news, comedy) in a podcast service. Customers are charged on a recurring basis until they decide to cancel.
One-time purchase / persistent entitlements
Allow customers to pay for access to premium features within the skill experience that remain available perpetually. Examples include additional theme packs in a trivia game skill or an additional branch of content in a choose-your-own-adventure story. Entitlements are purchased one time and don't expire.
One-time purchase / consumables
Allow customers to pay for access to additional parts of an experience that are available for use until depleted, either by quantity or time. Some examples include hints in a trivia game, currency in a farming game or limited time access to a special branch of content in a story skill. Consumable purchases are used, are depleted, and can be purchased again.
Help Customers find your in-skill products
How to make a purchase suggestion
The purchase suggestion is a way to offer your in-skill product to customers based on how the customer has used your skill. The purchase suggestion hands off the customer interested in purchasing products to the product flow handled by Amazon, which includes the product description and price. You won't need to provide this in your purchase suggestion to the customer. Learn more about adding products to your skill.
The purchase suggestion includes the following parts:
- A starting phrase that gracefully transitions from the current state to the offer..
A brief description of the product offered and its availability to customers.Important: Be careful not to repeat any information from your configured purchase offer description. Don't include pricing details. Alexa plays the purchase offer description and the offer price during the Amazon purchase flow.
- An explicit confirmation (Yes/No) to confirm interest in the offer, such as, "Want to learn more?"
The customer has finished the all free content in the skill Treasure Finders.
Alexa: "You found all 6 treasures. Great job! If you'd like more adventures to play, you can now get the Cave Quest expansion pack. Wanna learn more?"
Let's break down how this example fits our purchase suggestion model.
- Transition: "You found all six treasures. Great job! If you want more adventures to play…"
This transition has Alexa acknowledging that the user completed the content and flows nicely into the purchase suggestion.
- Product description: "…you can now get the Cave Quest expansion pack."
The product description gives a brief overview of the offer.
- Explicit confirmation: "Wanna learn more?"
The customer is given a yes/no confirmation to continue to the purchase flow, which is handled by Amazon.
|Determine whether a customer is interested in your product.||Don't include pricing details, because pricing is handled by Amazon.|
|Offer relevant products to the customer.||Don't offer a sales pitch.|
|Summarize what the product provides to the customer.||Never interrupt the customer.|
|End with an explicit confirmation (Yes/No) statement.||Avoid offering multiple products at the same time.|
|Make sure to offer different products each time for variety.||Don't keep suggesting the same product, because it feels like an interruption to the customer.|
|Make the customer aware of any quantity or time limits on the product.||Don't leave the customer stuck at a paywall, blocking additional content.|
How to handle direct purchasing
If a customer wants to purchase an item directly, you send them to Amazon's purchase flow without the need for an explicit confirmation. If the customer doesn't call out the item by name, you need to ask them which product they want, and then send them to the purchase flow.
The customer names an item they want to purchase.
Customer: "Buy the Cave Quest expansion pack"
Alexa (via the Amazon Purchase Flow): "The Cave Quest expansion pack includes five new adventures to discover ancient buried treasure. It's $1.99 plus tax. Would you like to buy it?"
The customer wants to purchase an item, but doesn't specify by name.
Customer: "I want an expansion pack."
Alexa: "I have two expansion packs that continue the adventure you just finished: Cave Quest adventures or Deep Sea puzzle games. Which one would you like?"
Customer: "Deep Sea."
Alexa (via the Amazon Purchase Flow): "Great choice. The Deep Sea expansion pack has seven new puzzles. It's $3.99 plus tax. Would you like to buy it?""
Offer a reminder
Reminders are a good way to keep customers engaged with your skill by letting them know what's available. To remind your customers that they can shop your in-skill products, prompt them while using your skill. Remember to provide an offer that's relevant to how they're using the skill with examples of things they can ask for, then resume the free experience. The customer shouldn't have to respond if they don't want to.
The customer is playing the free adventure series and is nearly done with the free content.
Alexa: "You've found five out of six treasures. Good job! When you're done with this adventure, you can get new adventures to play anytime- just ask me for expansion packs." (Pause)
"Let's keep going to find the last treasure. As you walk in the dark forest…"
You can also tell the customer to come back for new content to play during a logical pause in the dialog flow.
Alexa: "You've solved three out of seven puzzles. If you like this puzzle, you might enjoy playing new monthly puzzles found in Treasure Finders Plus. Just ask me for monthly puzzle or adventures to explore."(Pause)
"Alright, we've got some fun puzzles to solve! In the deep sea you find…"
Add a store option to your skill
If your skill already provides a set of actions when launched, include an option to hear a list of your products as if they were shopping in a store. This gives customers a reliable way to find a product when they're ready to buy.
- Let customers know what to expect by including words like "shop" or "for purchase" in your store option
- Make sure to include your shop option in the Help intent for customers who need further assistance
Let the customer know about the store in the welcome message.
Alexa: "Welcome to Treasure Finders. You can play Treasure Trove, check your score, or hear about more games and puzzles for sale. Which would you like?"
Customer: "What's in the store?"
Alexa: "I have two collections to choose from, Cave Quest or Deep Sea puzzles. Which are you interested in?"
Best practices for subscriptions
You must specifically call out that a product is part of a subscription series so that customers understand there is a recurring cost and new content every month.
Your customer has played all of the content available to them, but might want to play more purchased content.
Alexa: "You've played all of your adventure packs. You might like Treasure Finders Plus which includes two new adventures and three new puzzles every month to play. Wanna learn more?"
Offer subscription trial periods
If you use the subscription payment model, you can offer a trial. Trials allow customers to preview the product for free for a limited time. You can share the benefits that might interest a customer, but refrain from sharing nonessential details. You need to clarify that the trial is available to "new subscribers only." Past subscribers aren't offered a trial when they sign up for the subscription. You can set a trial period for subscriptions for up to 90 days but don't mention the duration in your trial offer. Alexa announces the trial and trial period during the purchase flow.
Your customer wants to play The Chasm, but it's part of a subscription series.
Customer: "Play The Chasm adventure."
Alexa: "The Chasm is only available with a subscription to Treasure Finders Plus. Subscribers get a collection of exclusive adventures, with a new one added each month. New subscribers can try it for free. Wanna learn more?"
Alexa (via the Amazon Purchase Flow): "Treasure Finders Plus is free for seven days. Then you'll be charged $4.99 a month plus tax. Cancel anytime. Check the Alexa app for terms. Should I start your free trial?"
Best practices for consumables
You must specifically call out if a product is consumable so that customers understand that these products can be depleted. The best way to do this is to be clear about the quantity or duration of the consumable in the product name and description.
Your customer is stuck at a level and can buy hints to help answer a trivia question correctly and progress to the next level.
Alexa: "You are just one right answer away from Level two. You can buy a package of three hints to get help with this answer. Would you like to learn more?"
Tracking consumable purchases
Consumable products are a great way to allow customers to gain a quick boost or help them overcome a difficult obstacle in a game. However, there are cases where the customer consumes them over time. Providing the customer with reminders or the ability to inquire about the balance of their consumables allows them to understand what's available to them and know when they're ready to purchase again.
Example of a gentle reminder:
A customer purchased a 7-day code to an exclusive story branch that expires in two days.
Alexa: "Welcome back. You have two days left in the land of fairies before you're kicked back to the main road. Would you like to continue where you left off?"
Example of a customer inquiry:
A customer bought 100 coins in a game and wants to know how many they have left.
Alexa: "Welcome back to Pirate Treasures. You can check the gold in your bags or continue the game where you left off. Which would you like?"
Customer: "How many coins do I have left in my bag?"
Alexa: "Yikes! You have 13 coins left, it looks like you're about to run out. Want to learn how to get more?"
Handling the post-purchase flow
Whether or not your customer buys an entitlement or signs up for a subscription, you must create a graceful hand off from the Amazon purchase flow back to your skill. For consumables, the hand-off might include instructions on how to access or use the new inventory of products that are now available to them.
Your customer asked to play The Chasm, which is part of a subscription that they purchased. After the purchase flow, you should immediately fulfill the request.
Alexa: "Let's explore The Chasm. You've made it through the dark woods and come upon a mysterious rift in the ground…"
Your customer purchased a 5-hint pack in a trivia game. After the purchase flow, you should immediately tell them how to access the hints.
Alexa: "Bring on the trivia! Thanks for buying five additional hints. Any time you want to use them, just say 'Give me a hint!' Now back to your last question, would you like to use a hint now?"
What if your customer doesn't purchase? You must handle that scenario as well, depending on the context. If your customer has exhausted all content and has refused other options, you must end the session.
The customer has played all free content and doesn't want to purchase content.
Alexa: "You've found all six treasures. Come back anytime to check out new adventures and puzzles. Goodbye."
Make it easy to cancel premium content
Refunds and cancellations always err on the side of the customer and should never be used as an opportunity to remind them of the products offered. Any refunds and cancellations are handled by Amazon through the purchase flow again.
Don't change global intents, like "cancel," "stop," or "end," to trigger a refund, cancellation, or unsubscribe intent. These intents end your skill instead of ending the purchase flow. Instead, point your skill back to the Amazon purchase flow to handle cancellations. For details, see handling refund requests.
Optimize your results
If you find that customers are getting product suggestions but the number of purchases are low, you might want to experiment by changing a few key items in your in-skill product offering.
- Change the list price of your in skill product or modify the trial period for your subscription.
- Change the value benefit of your product by changing the product type or quantity. Buying one hint for 99 cents might be an easier sell than unlimited hints for $9.99.
- Update your
productOfferDescriptionand the product summary. Learn more about modifying a product.
- Try changing how often customers hear about your product offerings.
- Reevaluate the content of your product. Do you need to add more content to make it truly a premium experience? If your content is older, it might be time to add a new product to your skill.
- Consider what products and product types you have that might overlap and confuse the customer. Simplify your store by offering different types of products. A shortcut might be better sold as a consumable whereas premium content might be a better value unlocked as a persistent entitlement.
Check the Measure Skill Usage page to view metrics on your in-skill product offerings. Tracking the Offer Impressions and Offer Conversion Rate over time indicates if the changes you make to improve your products are actually working by making your product offering more attractive to customers.
- 8 Best Practices for Designing Premium Experiences for Alexa Skills
- Add ISP Support to Your Skill Code
- Create and manage in-skill products
- Measure Skill Usage
- Speech Synthesis Markup Language
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Last updated: Feb 27, 2023