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Amazon E-commerce

The Reality Behind Voice Shopping Hype

Amazon and Google both tout voice shopping—the ability to make purchases and check on the status of orders with verbal commands—as significant features of their smart speakers. Some forecasts call for annual voice shopping sales to reach $40 billion in just a few years.

But it appears that only a small fraction of smart speaker owners use them to shop, and the few who do try it don’t bother again. The Information has learned that only about 2% of the people with devices that use Amazon’s Alexa intelligent assistant—mostly Amazon’s own Echo line of speakers—have made a purchase with their voices so far in 2018, according to two people briefed on the company’s internal figures. Amazon has sold about 50 million Alexa devices, the people said.

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One of Amazon’s challenges is that so few people are buying things through Alexa that the company has had a hard time identifying patterns that would allow it encourage further voice shopping, the person briefed on the program said. “There might be very few voice shoppers right now… but once you find out what’s special about them, you can grow them very quickly,” the person said. “That’s an unresolved problem.”

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“Clearly, voice shopping is not yet in the stage of being a mass market product.”