Blue Apron Adds Ordering and Recipes to Alexa
Meal kit creator Blue Apron has added its recipes to Amazon Alexa devices and enabled those who want to order a meal kit to do so from Echo Show smart displays even if they don’t have a subscription to the service. The expanded options are part of the growing interest in hands-free recipe guides and other food-related uses of the voice assistant in the kitchen.
The new Alexa app lets users pull up Blue Apron Two-Serving and Four-Serving recipes by voice on any Alexa device. It uses the same step-by-step recipes as found in the meal kit box but with vocal instructions at whatever pace the chef likes. Those with an Echo Show can use the device to order different meal kits every week a la carte instead of needing to sign up for a full subscription. Blue Apron is using Alexa to kick off its plans for further collaboration with other brands, as well as do more with Alexa.
“We continue to add more product flexibility that addresses our customers’ diverse cooking interests and desire for unique flavors. Through this collaboration, Alexa customers in the United States can now prepare our delicious recipes in a new and convenient way. This is just the start of our work with Alexa as we look forward to expanding this partnership in 2022,” Blue Apron CMO Dani Simpson explained. “Our current work with Alexa, along with our plans to expand our partnerships throughout 2022, are part of our efforts to substantially grow our customer connections, which we expect to be a key contributor to increasing our engagement and retention rates.”
The value of voice assistants in the kitchen has risen as the AI has improved and developers have found new ways to combine cooking and voice AI. For instance, Tinychef (formerly Klovechef) offers a conversational voice app supported by Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa that guides users through Google and Amazon smart speakers, smart displays and their respective mobile apps to recommend recipes and leads them through the process of identifying and buying ingredients to prep the meal and cook it. The AI learns what users like over time and gets better at suggesting new ideas that the user would enjoy. The company acquired meal-planning app startup Zelish and has raised around $2 million.
Alexa’s direct food connections have also been growing, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent spike in at-home food preparation. The voice assistant recently added a feature that remembers food preferences and dietary restrictions to develop recipe suggestions directly. Last year, Amazon and the Food Network started offering a free year of the $5 a month or $40 a year subscription Food Network Kitchen app, including the live and on-demand cooking classes, to Amazon Fire TV and tablet owners. They later expanded access to any Echo Show owner. Alexa also offers nutritional advice courtesy of the Mayo Clinic’s database. The feature shares semi-random healthy eating trivia when Alexa is asked to “give me a nutrition tip.”