July 10th, 2017 by Oren Smilansky

Tonight, Amazon will kick off its third annual Prime Day, a Black Friday-esque sale event during which it offers deals on a vast array of listed products. And, this year, the e-commerce giant has decided to double down on voice-controlled shopping by giving exclusive discounts to users of its Alexa-powered devices, including the Echo, Tap, and Fire TV and Fire tablet.

According to a statement Amazon released on July 5th, the company has already begun appealing to voice shoppers by giving them access to “more than 100” pre-Prime Day offers. These shoppers will also start getting Prime Day deals at 7pm ET, two hours before the event’s official start time at 9pm ET. This  could prove to be a major draw to those customers hoping to get the best deals. Especially since  a common complaint  among shoppers has been that the highest quality merchandise tends to  vanish quickly, causing customers to waste their time sifting through less appealing listings.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Amazon is using the event as an opportunity to generate interest in its Echo home speaker devices. The Echo will be available at 50 percent its normal listed price (at $89.99), and the Echo Dot at 30 percent the normal price ($34.99). Considering that the adoption of in-home smart speakers for shopping purposes has been relatively slow across the board, this could prove to be a smart move. By giving shoppers incentive to buy and use its virtual assistant-powered products to make purchases, Amazon also entices them to commit to its products before they consider competing offerings from the likes of Apple, whose HomePod is due out later this year, or Google who released its Home speaker late last year.

If Amazon’s efforts prove successful, it may be a sign that companies would be wise to cultivate a greater presence on Alexa devices. And the likelihood of that happening is looking positive. The first Prime Day proved relatively underwhelming, but the event showed greater potential last year, with Amazon reporting that the self-designated holiday in 2016 was its largest sales day ever. Sales were estimated at $525 million, a 26% increase from 2015. This year promises to be even bigger, with Amazon claiming 85 million Prime members, which is twice as many as it had in 2015. 

Amazon’s vice president of Voice Shopping, Assaf Ronen, is certainly optimistic. “This is going to be the most exciting Prime Day yet for voice shoppers,” he said in a statement last week. “We have deals on everything from smart home products to devices, chocolates and more starting today and going all the way through July 17th. Prime members have asked, ‘Alexa, what are your deals?’ more than three million times since we launched Alexa deals last year, and we’re thrilled to deliver even better deals this year.”

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