Alexa Offers Advice on Amazon Prime Day Gift Ideas
Alexa is acting as a guide for buying gifts during this year’s Amazon Prime Day and can even help people subscribe to the Prime program before the big day. The new features significantly boost the voice assistant’s role in Amazon’s giant annual sale, delayed this year by the COVID-19 pandemic to October 13 and 14.
The voice assistant can offer ideas based on price, occasion, or even mood, meaning you can ask Alexa for ideas for less expensive gifts, ones for the winter holidays, or an idea for a silly present to bring to a white elephant exchange. Alexa’s guidance is a facet of the digital gift guides Amazon has published ahead of Prime Day. The voice assistant takes its cues from the guides on Amazon for the suggestions it gives, with the usual categories, as well as products from small businesses. The small business guides also include lists curated by celebrities like Jessica Alba, Magic Johnson, and Ayesha Curry. Perhaps because of the delay for Prime Day, which usually happens in the summer, there seems to be an extra emphasis on holiday gifts, with guides for stocking stuffers and stylized snowflakes all over the screen. That might also explain the melding of Prime Day with the option to ask Alexa to donate to Toys for Tots, with Amazon matching every toy bought. This is the third year since Alexa started helping people donate to the charity, but again it’s a feature usually timed more to the winter holidays than the more usual season for Prime Day.
Alexa is noticeably more versatile in promoting Prime Day than in previous years. To encourage people to sing up for Prime with the voice assistant, Amazon is giving people who join through Alexa $5 to spend on Prime Day. In 2019, Alexa users could ask Alexa about Prime Day deals, including a few sneak previews before the actual event, but that was about it. The new features add a much more conversational tone to the interaction. The suggestions seem designed to encourage a longer back and forth, especially with the range of gift guide topics available.
If Alexa has as successful a Prime Day as last year, the first time it ran for two days, Amazon will have a lot to celebrate. Prime Day 2019 was the biggest sales event ever for Alexa-enabled devices, with millions sold, including more smart displays than ever in a two-day period. With more than a dozen new products revealed at Amazon’s hardware showcase last month, including new Echo smart speakers and a new Echo Show smart display, this year might even top it. That might depend on how deep the sales for the new devices run, however. Also of note is that Amazon sold hundreds of thousands of Amazon devices for children last Prime Day. There are even more Alexa-enabled devices for kids now, including a new Echo Dot Kids Edition in panda and tiger variants and the KidKraft Amazon Alexa Enabled 2-in-1 Kitchen & Market.