Amazon is spotlighting its artificial intelligence-powered virtual assistant, Alexa, in exclusive deals leading up to its midsummer Prime Day event on July 12.
Amazon's popular Echo, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap devices allow voice ordering via Alexa, and Prime members can get $10 off their first purchase on many transactions over $20 when they use Alexa and order by talking to "her." The retailer has also enabled an “Alexa, what are your Prime Day deals?” feature, according to a press release.
Amazon debuted Prime Day last year to celebrate its 20th anniversary and pump up sales at a time of year when shopping is not top of mind for consumers. It is continuing the promotion this year because the retailer says its first Prime Day sales rivaled Black Friday 2015 activity.
Amazon’s Alexa promotions show just how much Prime Day is about promoting Prime membership as well as Amazon's growing array of devices, at least as much as the event is about merchandise sales per se.
The company recruited tech YouTube tech vlogger Austin Evans to tout Alexa and “her” Prime Day deals. No less telling, Amazon has a vice president of voice shopping, Assaf Ronen.
“The day has come where you no longer have to visit a screen to shop,” Ronen said in a statement. “I can be standing in my kitchen, when I realize I am almost out of coffee and simply say, ‘Alexa, order Starbucks coffee’ and it shows up at my door within two days. Our Alexa speech science engineers have made something so incredibly challenging appear effortless to customers. And so we are excited for Prime members to try it.”
Amazon says that this year even more third-party sellers will be involved in its Prime Day event, and that they’ll be offering twice as many deals. Overall, Amazon will have some 100,000 deals across nearly all product categories.
It’s not clear whether that will mitigate or exacerbate complaints from last year that Prime Day is pretty much a big rummage sale, with “blockbuster” deals on run-of-the-mill items like socks and phone cords that in reality were only a dollar or two off.
But with truly blockbuster discounts (like a recent $200 discount on a hoverboard) that are more akin to Black Friday deals, Amazon may be able to persuade people that its now-annual summertime event really is something to celebrate, while demonstrating its huge merchandise assortment to newer Prime members, especially those on a trial.
“I see a lot of reports have come out saying that people haven’t got the deals they expected,” marketing expert Shmuli Goldberg told Retail Dive last year. “But look at the amount of deals on Prime Day, in every single category. This wasn’t just Black Friday, with deals at the high end — televisions, mobile phones. The deals were spread through the whole range. And I believe that the reason Prime Day was what it was is that once Amazon gets a customer in, they’re a customer for life.”