Amazon is again pushing Alexa’s voice shopping capabilities with today’s announcement of Prime Day deals. Prime Day, Amazon’s own version of a Black Friday sale – but only for Prime members – officially takes place on July 11th, with some deals arriving the night before. But voice shoppers will get an even bigger jump in line, Amazon says. Those who shop from an Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Amazon Tap, Fire TV or Fire tablet will gain access to Prime Day deals two hours before they’re open to the general public, on July 10th, from 4 pm to 6 pm PT.
Amazon is also offering cash incentives and Prime membership savings to encourage voice shopping.
This is not the first time Amazon has attempted to leverage Prime Day to push customers to try voice-based shopping. Last year, the retailer unveiled several Alexa-exclusive deals, $10 discounts on orders over $20 when placed via Alexa, and it knocked off another $10 on orders if it was your first time shopping by voice.
This time around, Amazon says there will be over 100 exclusive deals for Alexa users, starting today and running through July 17th. These offers will rotate often and are in addition to Alexa’s early access to Prime Day deals.
The deals announced today include savings on the Bose Soundlink Bluetooth speaker III, as well as on Alexa-compatible smart home devices, like the Wemo Mini smart plug and Philips Hue Lightstrip Plus, among other things. Amazon is also promoting its own brand of snack food, Wickedly Prime, with a deal for a popcorn mix.
While none of the exclusive Alexa deals are all that notable, Amazon says that Prime members have asked Alexa about deals over three million times since the feature was introduced last year. That still represents a small-ish audience, however, given that the Amazon Prime subscriber base in the U.S. is estimated to be 80 million. Plus, many of those 3 million inquires likely included customers who asked Alexa for deals repeatedly in order to hear the new offers.
A report from Bloomberg this morning also hints that voice shopping hasn’t quite taken off. More than half of consumers don’t have interest in these voice deals because they don’t trust Alexa to get orders right or just find shopping by voice inconvenient, the report said, citing a shopper survey by DealNews.
That’s not stopping Amazon from continuing to encourage voice-based shopping, though. This year, it’s also bringing back its cash discount for Alexa orders. It had offered a $10 discount on one purchase over $20, when ordered through Alexa, for Prime Day 2016. Amazon has now tweaked this deal and is instead handing out a $10 promo code to first-time Alexa shoppers. It’s also entering deal seekers into a $5,000 sweepstakes.
But perhaps one of the more interesting deals this year is the one that attempts to convert Echo and other Alexa device owners into Prime members.
While you don’t need to be a Prime subscriber to use an Echo device, it does help. You can then take advantage of features like access to Amazon’s on-demand music service, Amazon Music Unlimited; you can re-order your favorite Prime purchases and shop by voice; you can listen to original audio series and playlists through Audible Channels, and more.
For the first time this year, Alexa device owners can sign up for their initial year of Prime at $79 per year ($20 off the usual price) by saying “Alexa, sign me up for Prime.” This allows them to immediately take advantage of Prime benefits, including the ability to shop the Prime Day sales, and gain early access to Prime Day deals via Alexa.
Voice shopping is meant to be one of the benefits of Prime membership, and a key reason why Amazon invested in Alexa devices in the first place. But today’s device owners seem to appreciate other features more, like smart home control; streaming music; access to information like news, weather, and traffic; the ability to ask Alexa for help with things like timers and reminders, among other things. It remains to be seen if Amazon’s new Alexa deals – or possibly its new Alexa device with a screen, the Echo Show, will push more consumers to try voice shopping.