Introducing Amazon Echo Buttons – Why they matter to merchants

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Amazon‘s newest Echo gadget are the Echo Buttons, intended for family board game style fun. At first glance they appear a little trite but to understand them we have to first look at the overall picture of how Amazon are using Echo to increase sales.

Amazon have sold “tens of millions” of Echo devices powered by Alexa and have amassed over 23,000 ‘skills’ – additional third party programs that add functionality to Alexa. In truth probably at least 20,000 of these skills are not the sort of thing you’d ever want to use. Magic 8 ball, flipping a coin, making cat meow sounds or even worse getting Alexa to fart aren’t particularly top of my list.

One thing that Amazon are keen to do however is to increase consumer interaction with Alexa because they know that Amazon Echo owners spend 66% more than the average Amazon user, making them the most valuable customers Amazon have. Overall in the US, Amazon customers spend approximately $1,000 annually, Prime customers spend around $1,300 but the average annual spend for Amazon Echo owners is a massive $1,700.

Amazon Echo Buttons

This goes some way to explain the attraction to Amazon of Echo Buttons. They are sold in pairs, you can hook two pairs (four Echo Buttons) to a single Alexa and then you can buzz in to play games such as Trivial Pursuit Tap by Hasbro – a hugely popular board game. Other Echo Button games available (which frankly I’ve never heard of before) are Hanagram, Button Monte and Party Foul. It’s reasonable to expect that there will be an explosion of games which support the Amazon button by next Christmas.

The Amazon Echo Button is a way for Amazon to get the whole family, or perhaps friends at a dinner party interaction with Alexa and the Echo family of products. Imagine that you get your friends around and play Trivial Pursuit but a few weeks later you go to their house and wheel out their Alexa Buttons and suddenly the game is a whole lot more fun and perhaps you are tempted to invest in an Echo, especially later in the evening as the wine flows and Alexa is merrily playing music in the background.

Why Amazon invest so much in Entertainment

Rakuten’s strapline is “Shopping is Entertainment” – I didn’t really get it in the past but Amazon obviously did and if you look at the vast array of services they now have – everything from Echo games to Fire TV with Prime Movies, Prime Music, Kindle books and Fire tablets including tablet version for kids – you start to see how they are tying consumers lives ever closer to Amazon. If Amazon is you go to place for entertainment then it’ll probably also be your go to place for shopping – after all to get the most out of Amazon’s entertainment you’ll probably have a Prime subscription so with unlimited free (mostly) next day deliveries why wouldn’t you?

Of course the third party retailers most likely to win are those who have their products in FBA or who can offer Seller Fulfilled Prime deliveries. Even those who don’t put stock in Amazon’s own warehouses will still win if they have unique stock or can capture the all important Buy Box.

2 Responses

  1. ooh nice. i like this.
    i meant its not revolutionary, but for playing board games it’s an awesome idea.
    an independent vocal arbitrater for who pushed their button first.
    i don’t know why it needs to be compatible with specific board games though? tell alexa who’s on the blue button, if the blue button is pressed first, alexa says that name.
    surely this works for any fastest-finger-first game?

  2. I suspect one of the reasons Alexa spend is so much higher is that it automates shopping. By default, it comes switched on. As we discovered at Christmas.

    Somehow, the Alexa in the room interpreted the conversation in such a way as to add products to our Amazon shopping basket and automatically checkout (thus billing our card). We didn’t see any confirmation emails, and when totally unexpected items arrived in the post, it was only by looking through our Alexa log could we see that it had been ordered through the Alexa rather than being some kind of seller error. Slightly scary !

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