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It Seems Practically No One Is Using Alexa To Buy Things Off Amazon

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Majority of Alexa users aren’t using their smart speakers to shop online, contrary to what third-party research firms have claimed. Worse, most of the people who did buy something didn’t try it again.   ( David Becker | Getty Images )

Surprise, surprise: only a small number of Echo users purchase items off Amazon via Alexa — just merely 2 percent of the entire Echo user base.

Amazon has sold 50 million Alexa-capable devices thus far, including its own Echo family of smart speakers. That's a pretty huge user base, and Amazon no doubt hopes a lot of them would be more inclined to use voice commands as a way of shopping online.

Amazon Alexa Users Aren't Using Their Devices To Shop

Whatever strategy Amazon is using, it's not working. According to a new report by The Information, almost nobody is using Alexa to place orders for them on Amazon. To make matters worse, 90 percent of those who did make a purchase didn't try it again. Only around 20 percent have engaged the assistant to track things they've purchased or look for deals, but so few are actually going ahead and purchasing the items from their Alexa-equipped devices, preferring instead to use traditional methods.

"Clearly, voice shopping is not yet in the stage of being a mass market product," according to two people briefed on Amazon's internal figures, as The Information reports.

The Information's figures present a far lower number than other third-party estimates, such as one from the research firm voicebot.ai, which concluded in June that 16 percent of smart speaker owners use them to shop for at least once a month.

So if majority of Alexa users aren't using the assistant for shopping, what are they using it for? As it turns out, not much has changed from the early days when Alexa-equipped devices became popular. People are still using them to get answers to simple questions, hear weather reports, set timers and reminders, and play music.

For now, there's so few people using Alexa to shop that it's hard to pinpoint patterns that could encourage further shopping. According to the source, that challenge will be easy enough to overcome.

"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."

Voice Shopping vs Online Shopping

The low numbers make sense, it can be argued, since shopping online using a traditional device with a screen makes much more sense than simply barking orders out loud. Shopping online manually lets users review what they're going to purchase and refine options as they see fit, whereas voice-based shopping offers a very truncated experience by contrast. Add to that the inability to see the products or let users quickly browse through reviews, and shopping by voice suddenly doesn't sound all that great, especially when users' money is on the line.

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