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The era of smart speakers has come with no shortage of conveniences. With simple voice commands you can listen to the news, check your calendar for the day and control other smart devices at home. But one of the biggest perks is voice shopping.
We love shopping…a lot. No wonder Amazon is making loads of money.
But even with apps and well-designed online stores, shopping still takes time and effort. You have to search for what you want then scroll through products until you find exactly what you are looking for.
What Google Home and Amazon Echo have done is take all the work out of shopping. Instead of burning out your thumb on your phone’s screen, you just say what you want and a virtual assistant finds it for you and arranges payment and delivery.
Granted, it’s not a super smooth process right now but it’s quickly improving. I don’t think it will completely replace good old online shopping but it will be handy for small everyday items and those times you are too tired or busy to pick up your phone.
Here’s how to voice-shop with your Google Home or Amazon Echo speaker.
Shopping with Google Home
Google has partnerships with various retailers through the Google Express platform where you can easily shop for products from Walmart, Best Buy and other companies.
You can shop on Google Express using Google Assistant.
Google has been doing a slow rollout of this feature starting last year. It’s currently available only in continental US. To check whether you can shop using Google Assistant just ask your Google Home speaker, Ok Google, how do I shop?
Before you can successfully order paper towels or pet food via Google Home, you need to configure your account.
Go to your Google Home app and check that personal results are turned on. Then go to Payments and add your delivery address and preferred payment method. If you already have an existing payment method, you’ll just need to select it.
You are now ready to start voice shopping.
Note: For now, you can only order items costing between $4 and $100. There’s free delivery but you have to reach a minimum spending limit ($25 or $35 in most stores).
To shop just say, Ok, Google, order Tide Pods from Walmart.
If you don’t specify the store, Google Assistant will use your shopping history and product availability to bring you a selection of options.
(See list of participating stores, including Walmart, PetSmart, Target, The Home Depot and Walgreens.)
Say ‘No’ to get another suggestion or ‘Yes’ to place an order. Note that the prices mentioned by Google Assistant include taxes which vary by location.
You’ll get an order confirmation email with all details including delivery date. You can cancel your order but be quick because once it is ready for delivery you cannot cancel.
To prevent voice shopping on your Google Home, go to the Payment settings in your Google Home app and turn off the ‘Pay with your Assistant’ option.
Shopping With Amazon Echo
Shopping with Amazon Echo is easy.
Because you already have an Amazon account with all your payment and delivery details, there is no additional setup required. You just ask Alexa to order something. You can even order music.
But you can only shop with Amazon Echo if you have a Prime membership.
To order, use a voice command like Alexa, order batteries.
Alexa will give you suggestions. Say ‘Yes’ to order something, ‘No’ to move to the next suggestion and ‘Add it to my cart’ to check it out later.
If you are buying something again, Alexa will check your order history and ask whether you want to order the same brand you did last time.
You can also ask, Alexa, what are my deals? to get the best deals of the day.
Other shopping commands include;
Alexa, where’s my stuff? to check delivery status.
Alexa, what’s in my cart? to hear what you’ve added to your shopping cart.
Alexa cancel my order to cancel an order.
Alexa can also send you notifications on your phone to remind you of upcoming deliveries and you can set up reminders for items you frequently order on Amazon.
You can also set up a 4-digit voice pin to prevent anyone else from ordering using your account. The pin also prevents accidental purchases.
As I mentioned, there are still some limitations as to what you can order. But in the next couple of years, there’ll be no difference between shopping from your phone and shopping from your smart speaker; except of course whether you are using your fingers or voice.