Amazon Connects Alexa and Shaq to Educational Charity
People who want to donate school supplies to children in need can now ask Alexa to arrange it. Amazon debuted the new feature for its Happy School Year charity program on Monday, combining philanthropy with shopping by voice.
Voice Shopping for a Good Cause
Anyone with an Alexa-enabled device can ask the voice to assistant to “Donate to Happy School Year.” Once Alexa confirms that the user wants to spend $25 for school supplies for a student, it will fill the order on Amazon, shipping a complimentary backpack full of the supplies to Communities in Schools, a national nonprofit that works to bring resources to students who might not be able to afford them. After the transaction, Shaquille O’Neal will thank the donors for their generosity.
The donations via Alexa are one of several philanthropic activities that Amazon is doing for Happy School Year this summer, partnering with Zappos for Good as well as O’Neal and his Shaq-to-School program. Amazon is also matching Alexa donations with a backpack of their own up to $200,000, the equivalent of 8,000 such donations.
Gateway for Voice Commerce
While the charitable effort is certainly a positive contribution by Amazon, there’s no denying the ancillary benefit of creating a way to introduce people to the idea of buying things by voice. Though the voice commerce space is still very new, there are more people trying it out all the time. An estimated 31 million Americans will buy something by voice this year.
While a lot of those purchases are likely to be digital media, there’s mounting evidence that people want to buy basic goods and groceries via a voice assistant. The number of people buying by voice is tied directly to the prevalence of smart speakers, and Voicebot’s own surveys showed the percentage of consumers who have tried to buy anything by voice has risen to around 20 percent as of the end of 2018, just as there’s been a 40.2 percent rise in smart speaker ownership to 66.4 million households.
Shaq certainly appears to be interested in voice commerce. He was one of the hosts who introduced the real-time sale of special edition Nike sneakers through Google Assistant, a project that earned three Cannes Lions earlier this year. Though it’s likely just a coincidence, celebrities like Shaq could be a key element to the marketing of voice commerce as Amazon and its rivals try to entice more people into testing asking a voice assistant to buy something for them.