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Alexa Adds Voice-Activated SMS Texting

Alexa Adds Voice-Activated SMS Texting

Users of Amazon’s Alexa can now send SMS texts as an alternative to voice messages, opening up new communication opportunities for retailers using the Alexa platform.

Customers can now ask Alexa to send a message to a specific contact, and Alexa will figure out how to route it appropriately — using either voice messages, or by sending it out as an SMS message if the recipient doesn’t have an Alexa-powered device of their own. So far, the service is only available for Android users.

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More retailers are using the Alexa platform in some capacity, so enabling shoppers to quickly make a voice command that translates into text can create another mode of communication between both sides. Best Buy is selling limited categories of products through Alexa, enabling shoppers to learn about and purchase Deal of the Day products, and Calvin Klein integrated Amazon Echo devices into its CALVIN KLEIN X Amazon Fashion pop-up stores. Brooks Brothers is an early adopter of Alexa for Business, a new service from Amazon Web Services (AWS), although the retailer isn’t using it in a customer-facing capacity.

“Alexa’s new capability allowing consumers to send SMS messages to contacts using their voice will only accelerate regular usage and additional sales of voice devices,” said Luke Starbuck, VP of Marketing of Linc in commentary provided to Retail TouchPoints. “This announcement also demonstrates, yet again, the unrelenting increase in the utility value of voice devices. The growing functionality from Alexa and additional voice-assistants will mean there will be more devices in shoppers’ kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and bathrooms moving forward, creating an opportunity for brands to be a real part of consumers’ daily home lives. Brands that capitalize on delivering momentary touch points and interactions with voice devices throughout the shopping journey will benefit by increasing the frequency of engagement along with customer satisfaction and shopping frequency.”

Before the recent update, Alexa users could only send messages to other Alexa-powered devices. The new texting capabilities come a few months after Amazon introduced the Echo Connect, a $34.99 device that augments Alexa’s calling features and turns the Echo into a hands-free speakerphone, with the ability to make calls over landlines or VOIP.

While an estimated 15.3 million households in 2017 used voice-activated assistants such as Alexa and Google Home, this number is anticipated to jump to as high as 66.3 million by 2022.

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