Amazon rolls out Alexa-powered voice shopping experience in India

Amazon today rolled out Alexa-enabled voice-powered shopping feature in India as the e-commerce giant looks for new ways to engage with customers in one of its key overseas markets.

The American giant said the feature, currently rolling out to Android users, is available “primarily in English” though it understands proper nouns and regional words across various languages.

“As we brought this functionality to Indian customers, we built custom functionality to cater to India’s unique requirements. We built this keeping the Indian customer at the center, optimizing for myriad accents and products relevant to the Indian customer,” an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch.

This is the first time Amazon is bringing this feature outside of the U.S., the spokesperson said.

Customers will be able to use Alexa to search for items on the e-commerce platform, add them to the cart, and proceed to checkout — by saying commands such as “Alexa, show me sarees,” “Alexa, add saree to my cart,” and “Alexa, go to checkout.”

Once the order has been placed, users can check the whereabouts of the order through voice as well, by asking “Alexa, where is my delivery?”

Amazon has claimed in the past that its voice-enabled shopping feature is gaining traction, but according to one 2018 report, most users were not showing great appetite for this experience.

But India, where the company has vast presence and has invested over $5.5 billion in the local business, may provide the company with some breakthrough.

As hundreds of Indians came online in the last decade, many have gravitated toward voice to engage with apps and internet services and make searches as they are not comfortable with typing in English. Last year, Google reported that voice queries had grown by 270% over a year in India.

“Recognizing the opportunities, several well-known brands have enabled voice-activated search, including ride sharing apps, e-commerce sites, telcos, and car brands, to name a few,” it wrote in a blog post.