Amazon Adds Alexa to Shopping App in India
Amazon has expanded voice shopping on its mobile app to India. The new feature integrates Alexa into the Android version of Amazon’s shopping app in India, the first country outside of the U.S. to offer it.
Speak to Shop
The new Speak to Shop feature asks users for access to the microphone, then allows them to look up items and add choices to the cart by voice. Alexa is powering the voice search feature on the app, but the voice assistant isn’t called upon by name. There’s a button near the search bar that activates the microphone. Making the purchase still requires users to tap on the right buttons, however. It’s not clear if or when the iOS version of the app will add this feature in India, although it is already there in the U.S.
According to a Gadgets 360 report, Amazon started working on the voice shopping option after adding Hindi to the languages for the website and app. The actual voice search is only in English at the moment, but Hindi and other Indian languages are on the roadmap for future updates. The voice search is also less restrictive than Alexa in other apps in India. It doesn’t require an Amazon Prime or Alexa account to function like the Amazon Music and Alexa apps.
Alexa in India
The shopping by voice feature is just the latest of Amazon’s additions to Alexa in India. After teaching Alexa to speak Hindi and the Hindi/English hybrid language Hinglish in September, Amazon debuted its new, portable smart speaker, the Echo Input, exclusively in India in December, followed by the Echo Show 8. Amazon is beating out other voice assistants in India, with three-fifths of the smart speaker market. Google makes all but 2% of the rest of the smart speakers in the country, according to an IDC report.
Amazon can’t afford to be complacent, though. Apple now sells its HomePod smart speaker in India, and Siri now speaks Hinglish. Google is angling for a broader approach to India. The company partnered with Vodaphone, set up a free, dedicated phone line for people to call the Google assistant from any phone last fall, and Google Assistant supports several Indic languages not spoken by Alexa.
And Google Assistant beats out Alexa when it comes to voice apps in Hindi. There are nearly ten times as many Google Actions as Alexa Skills in Hindi and five times as many Indians speak Hindi compared to English. Focusing on using Alexa to boost Amazon’s primary business bypasses that competition and could help encourage people in India to think of Amazon first when it comes to voice tech.