The move underscores Amazon’s knack for wrapping together seemingly disparate parts of its business to turn a buck.
Users of Amazon.com’s Alexa will now be able to order items for near-immediate delivery using the voice-activated digital assistant, another sign of how the e-commerce giant is trying to transform what recently was just a bold technological bet into a cash register.
Prime Now, as the one- to two-hour delivery service is known, offers a more limited selection of items than the all-encompassing Amazon.com website, but it’s geared to satisfying immediate needs. It has its own smartphone app and a separate online site from the usual Amazon store. Some 30 cities, including Seattle, have the service.
So now owners of an Echo or other Alexa-enabled device can talk to their gadget and say: “Alexa! Order nachos from Prime Now!” and see them appear a few hours later. Alexa will even make recommendations to add to the order and pick the next available two-hour delivery slot, which is free for members of Amazon’s $99-a-year Prime loyalty program.
The move underscores Amazon’s knack for wrapping together seemingly disparate parts of the multipronged company to turn a buck. It also shows the profit-making potential of a talking artificial-intelligence experiment that’s still in the early stages of learning how to bring home the bacon.
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Last week analysts with RBC Capital Markets predicted that by the end of the decade, Alexa could be generating $10 billion in revenue for the company.
That’s partly from the sale of devices such as the Echo, but also significantly through increased shopping through Alexa, which could generate 5 percent of Amazon’s business within three to five years, the analysts said.