Photograph by Getty Images
By Leena Rao
July 1, 2016

Amazon added a new skill for its voice assistant Alexa on Friday, and it could help the e-commerce giant add even more revenue to its already billions in yearly sales from selling everything from toilet paper to toothpaste.

Alexa has become popular through its ability to answer questions, turn on lights, and re-order items like diapers directly through the e-commerce giant’s voice-controlled home devices Echo and Echo Dot as well as its streaming device, Fire TV. Users simply utter a command instructing Alexa, like “Alexa, re-order Huggies Diapers” and Alexa will fulfill the order for diapers to arrive at shopper’s doorsteps.

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Previously, you could only use Alexa to re-order items you already bought on Amazon, but with today’s update, now you can tell Alexa you want to buy any one of its tens of millions of items that are sold on Amazon. The one caveat is that the item must be a Prime product, meaning it is fulfilled by Amazon and can be shipped to shopper’s doorsteps within two days or less.

So if your daughter or son wants a Elsa doll from Disney’s Frozen movie, you simply ask, “Alexa, please order the Elsa doll from Frozen,” and Alexa will suggest a toy that fits that description. You then say “yes” to continue the transaction, and Alexa will take care of charging your credit card, and shipping the product to your home.

The benefit for this skill for Amazon is that it’s yet another way for its shoppers to buy more items from the e-commerce juggernaut. The idea is to make commerce so easy for customers that they barely think about it—and, of course, help increase Amazon’s business.

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Amazon is putting a lot of resources into Alexa and Echo as the company looks to fend off competition from Google and possibly Apple. Earlier this month, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos said that more than 1,000 people are working on Alexa’s technology, and he believes Alexa will become the fourth pillar of Amazon’s business, adding to Amazon Prime, its cloud business Amazon Web Services, and its online retail marketplace.

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