Amazon Echo starts shipping orders – How do you get your products included?

Amazon EchoAmazon have upped the stakes in the electronic butler service by adding the ability to place orders with Alexa, the voice of their Amazon Echo product.

Amazon Echo is always listening with Alexa ready to serve you as soon as she hears her name. Up until now, all she could do was to add products to your shopping list. That’s all changed with the latest software update – Alexa can now place orders live on Amazon and have goods delivered to your home.

There are a few limitations, anyone that’s set up one click ordering on their Amazon account can purchase digital music, but if you want real physical goods delivered then you’ll need to have an Amazon Prime account. Products not available for purchase by Echo are clothing, shoes, jewelry and watches. Anything from Amazon Fresh or Pantry, Prime Now orders for delivery within the hour and add-on items are also on the unavailable list. Pretty much anything else goes.

Of course there’s one major failing of Amazon Echo and that is Echo is currently only available in the US. We can’t access it in the UK, but there are already some lessons we can learn ready for the UK launch. On the plus side, if you sell on Amazon.com there’s a pretty good chance your inventory is already in US FBA and that means you’re set for Alexa sales.

Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA) is key. If you want your products to be available on Amazon Echo then they need to be in Amazon’s own warehouse (or you need to be on the seller fulfil FBA program).

Additionally Amazon will need to be able to identify your product and confirm it through Alexa with your end customer. We’ve been discussing things like Product Identifiers (GTIN, MPN, Brand) regularly on Tamebay and tools like Echo are the reason why. Whereas in the past a buyer would search for a product and your item title would suffice, there are too many products, too many competitors and too much subjectivity in a title for a virtual personal assistant to navigate through.

Yes we know eBay aren’t selling through virtual assistants yet, but they will. Amazon already are. On eBay you’ve a little time, but the reason eBay are cajoling you to add product identifiers will help with SEO today, but it will be vital in the future.

On Amazon, if you think you’re being clever today by putting a sticker on your product, calling it a branded item and avoiding competition, you may be getting more sales than by competing in the mix on price alone on an ASIN with everyone else. (Secretly we all know it’s the clever thing to do even if we publicly frown on the practise and consider it a little underhand). In the future however, your standalone ASIN fulfilled from your own warehouse is going to be ignored by Alexa and merchants will have to be ever more compliant or their sales will likely decline.

The bots running our lives are going to try and supply the easy option and that’ll be the most popular FBA ASINs eligible for Prime. Of course if you’re selling art then the bots are going to struggle to pick something to my taste. If I just want to order a new bluetooth mouse for my laptop the competition is going to be harsh and in all likelihood the most complete listing with the most structured data will be the one the bots choose to ship.