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Shopping with Alexa on Amazon Prime day will be hard. These tricks make it easier


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USA Today’s Jefferson Graham suggests tips on the best way to shop through Amazon’s home assistant, Alexa.
USA TODAY

LOS ANGELES — Alexa is great for listening to music and answering trivia questions, but when it comes to shopping…well, that’s another story.

If you have one of the classic Echo speakers, you know that there are no visuals to see the product in question and once Alexa makes suggestions, it’s hard to comparison shop or get the best prices.

But Amazon wants you to buy this way, and throws some special deals that can only be accessed by asking Alexa for them.

On Prime Day, many specials will be Alexa-only. Market Track, an ad and pricing analysis firm, says during last year’s Amazon Prime Day, items available only via Amazon’s digital assistant Alexa were on average 33 percent off their everyday price.

The good news for shoppers who haven’t got the hang of barking out your shopping orders:  Amazon will update its special Alexa shopping webpage Monday to give you the exact wording you’ll need to use to command the connected speaker. 

And, if you can master the process, it’s a whole lot easier to just say “Order razor blades,” than it is to click a few buttons to get them. The trick, of course, is phrasing your command correctly and knowing that browsing and comparison shopping is impossible. Know your specific item and you’re in much better shape. 

Here are our tips for shopping with Alexa.

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— “Alexa, what are my deals?” This is a 365 days-of-the-year special Amazon offers to members of the Prime expedited shipping and entertainment service. Amazon notes that it will offer extra special voice discounts and exclusives for Alexa users. Ask for them and decide whether $10 off the price of a garden hose or $1.50 off the price of stain remover are worth it. (We were also offered $15 off the price of an Echo Dot speaker, which normally sells for $49.99.) Have a phone or computer near you so you can see what the product being touted in the daily deal looks like and comparison shop. 

–“Alexa, re-order batteries.”  Alexa doesn’t tell you how the products it usually chooses, say Amazon house brands, compare to competitors, nor can the basic Echo speakers show you a visual of what the product looks like. What it can do is reorder basic, household goods. If you’ve found a brand of battery or paper towel you like, ask Alexa to order them again for you. Alexa can look in your shopping and browsing history for the brands. 

—”Alexa, what’s in my cart?” or “Where’s my stuff?” Ask to hear about what items you’ve socked away for later, and get delivery status on your purchases. 

–“Alexa, update my shopping settings.” Actually, Alexa won’t do that for you via voice, but it’s an important step all Amazon Echo owners should do pronto. Via touch, can go into the settings section of the Alexa smartphone app and add a 4 digit code as a second factor authenticator to approve each purchase. The code can ensure that you or someone else in your home doesn’t go a little batty in ordering stuff non-stop.

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–Skip “Alexa, order from my shopping list.” Don’t waste your time with that one. Alexa won’t add to your cart from a shopping or wish list. Save your energy here.

–When you get the suggested product offer from Alexa, double check what you’ve ordered. You’ll save lots of money and get what you want. When I tried to order paper towels, Alexa responded by suggesting twice as many as I wanted, for $24, vs. $10 for the more desired 6 count, at $10.49. 

 

Follow USA TODAY’s Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. 

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