Amazon Echo Data Leak Highlights Significant Hurdles To Voice Shopping Adoption

Amazon Echo Speaker
Amazon is on a mission to rule the e-commerce world, and several of its products and services play into that goal. That includes Alexa, the digital assistant found in a range of Echo smart speakers. The question is, how many are using Alexa to order items online? Leaked data suggests it might be less than you think.

Citing a pair of people who have been briefed on Amazon's internal figures, The Information reports that only around 2 percent of people who own Alexa-powered devices have made purchases using their voices so far this year. It is a surprisingly low engagement rate, though Amazon did sell in the neighborhood of 50 million Alexa devices.

"Clearly, voice shopping is not yet in the stage of being a mass market product," one of the sources said.

Even more concerning for Amazon, the vast majority of people (90 percent) who bought something using their voice only tried it once. If we crunch the numbers, that works out to just 100,000 Alexa device owners (out of 50 million) who bought something with their voice on more than one occasion. Another 900,000 users only tried buying something with their voice once, and the remaining 49 million Alexa device owners have not bothered with it at all.

A figure that is slightly more encouraging for Amazon is that 20 percent of those who bought something with their voice some a more broad engagement, asking things like "What are my deals?" and "Where is my stuff?" to tracker orders.

It's not clear why exactly more Alexa device owners are not making purchases with their voice. As it stands, Echo smart speaker (and Google Home) owners are far more likely to ask simple questions, like what the weather will be like. They also interact with their digital assistants to set timers, play music, and things of that nature.

Amazon has not shared any official data regarding user engagement, though a spokesperson did provide a statement that runs counter to the aforementioned figures.

"Millions of customers use Alexa to shop because it is the most convenient way to capture needs in the moment," the spokesperson said. "We want to enable customers to shop in whatever way is easiest for them."

Nevertheless, the level of engagement is not where Amazon wants it to be. This is evidenced by various incentives Amazon offers to encourage Alexa device owners to shop with their voice, like when it offered a discount on items purchased with Alexa during its Prime Day sales bonanza last month.