How to shop on Amazon using Alexa voice controls

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One of the more useful abilities of Amazon’s Echo products is the ability to use them to order stuff from Amazon. So if you’ve been hesitant to set up the feature to avoid accidental purchases, or are just curious about how ordering through Alexa actually works, read on for a guide on how to shop on Amazon through your Alexa device.

Why use Alexa voice orders?

There are a few advantages to ordering through Alexa. First off, there’s the convenience of just being able to ask your Echo or other Alexa-touting device to get more garbage bags or place an order for the latest Call of Duty game.

Amazon also offers Alexa voice-exclusive deals (including some upcoming ones for Amazon’s Prime Day event that start later today), which you can find by asking Alexa what the current deals on offer are.

Beyond that, there’s the bonus that unlike regular Amazon products, Alexa-ordered physical goods are automatically eligible for free return shipping, which makes it a useful option if you’re looking to purchase something that you’re not sure you want to keep.

How to set up Alexa shopping

To use voice shopping through Alexa, you’ll need a few things:

  • An Amazon Prime membership
  • A US shipping address
  • A US-based payment method and billing address set up in your Amazon account for 1-Click settings
  • Something that works with Alexa (you can even make your own!)

Once you’ve already set up your Alexa device through the Alexa app on your phone, then (possibly) good news! Voice shopping is already enabled by default. If you’d prefer not to have voice shopping enabled, you can go to Settings -> Voice Purchasing in the Alexa app, and enable or disable the feature. You can also manage your 1-Click settings here, and perhaps most importantly, set a four-digit PIN to make sure that random houseguests or small children don’t accidentally order a dozen crates of beef jerky to your house without your permission.

Amazon Echo Dot

Amazon Echo Dot

How to order stuff

Alexa can order basically anything Amazon Prime-eligible that’s sold or fulfilled by Amazon directly. Once you’ve set up your device and your account, you’ve got three options for ordering things through Alexa.

Reordering: Alexa can draw on your existing order history on Amazon— so if you’ve bought a specific type of AA battery from Amazon in the past, Alexa will allow you to easily reorder that product through a “reorder _____” command. Alexa will ask you to confirm the order, and if you say yes, you’re set and ready to go.

New products: If it’s something new, Alexa will suggest an “Amazon Choice” product that meets the description. If you like the suggestion, you’ll be able to confirm the choice and your order will be placed.

Add to cart: If you’re a little unsure about what you want to order, you can ask Alexa to add a product to your Amazon shopping cart. If the item you add is too generic — like “paper towels” — than Amazon will offer additional choices in that category when you view your cart.

Usefully, you can also ask Alexa to “cancel an order” immediately after you’ve placed one in the event that you order the wrong thing.

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Other voice shopping features

There are a few other voice shopping features baked into Alexa beyond basic ordering. If you’re in a city that offers Amazon Prime Now local delivery, you can order items by asking Alexa to “Order _____ from Prime Now,” after which Alexa will offer available delivery windows and allow you to complete your order.

Additionally, you can also use your Alexa device to track existing orders by asking it “Where’s my stuff?” which will let you know when your packages will arrive.

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