Alexa Shopping and Voice Purchasing: A Step-by-Step Guide

Shopping via an Alexa device is easier than ever.


Chris Monroe/CNET

Who wants to actually go to a store to shop these days? Well, at least I don’t. And I’m not alone. In fact, a recent survey of more than 30,000 consumers found that 57 percent of those surveyed prefer to shop online. 

Instead of fighting crowds and sifting through racks of clothing by hand, just turn to your Amazon smart devices. It might sound odd, but Alexa can shop for you. With voice purchasing and Alexa’s ability to find the best deals with one simple voice command, shopping via an Alexa device is now easier than ever.

Simple enough, right? I’ll walk you through all the ways Alexa can help you shop like a pro. 

Read also: The Real Cost of Setting Up an Amazon Smart Home

1. Turn on Alexa voice purchasing

There are a few basic steps to follow before you can shop with your Alexa device. First, you need to sign up as an Amazon Prime member. It costs $119 per year, but it’s essential for shopping with Alexa. Plus, a Prime membership comes with many other perks

To set up Voice Purchasing, first open your Alexa app. Next, tap Menu > Settings > Account Settings > Voice Purchasing. Toggle on Voice Purchasing. Finally, go to 1-Click Preferences on the site and set up a payment method.

To purchase something, say, “Alexa, add (item) to my shopping cart.” Alexa will find the item and add it to your cart. When you’re done adding items, say, “Alexa, order items in my shopping cart,” and confirm.

2. Prevent unwanted Alexa voice purchasing

There have been several cases of kids ordering items from Amazon without permission. In fact, even a parrot can order treats without a problem. To avoid unwanted purchases, it’s best to be proactive and use two of Alexa’s security features: voice code and voice ID.

One of the best methods to limit purchasing is to set up a four digit voice code that is required for authorizing purchases. 

To set up your code, go to the Alexa app and tap More > Settings > Account Settings > Voice Purchasing > Purchase Confirmation > Manage. Then toggle on Voice Code, type in a four-digit code you’d like to use and tap Go. Make sure to remember the code because you’ll need it next time you confirm an order.

If you want an extra layer of security, you can set up Alexa voice ID, so that only recognized household members can place orders with Alexa.

Start by opening the Alexa app. Tap More > Settings > Account Settings > Voice Purchasing. Next, go to Purchase Confirmation and select Manage > Voice ID. From here, you can turn on and off saved profiles, or create new profiles. 

3. Let Alexa do the shopping for you 

If you know exactly what you want, tell Alexa. Mention brand, quantity and color. For example, “Alexa, add two black Sharpie markers to my shopping cart.” 

If you don’t know what brand you want, don’t worry. You can ask for something nonspecific and Alexa will pick an Amazon Prime item for you. For example if I say, “Alexa, put black permanent markers in my cart,” she will choose a Prime item for that category and put it in my cart. 

If you’ve ordered an item before, Amazon will remember your brand preference and add that brand of item to the cart. This is true no matter if you’ve ordered the item on the Amazon site or with Alexa.

4. Ask Alexa what’s in your cart

It’s easy to forget what is in your cart, so before confirming a purchase ask, “Alexa, what is in my shopping cart” and you’ll hear the list of products. This will prevent you from ordering too many items if you accidentally added something twice or from purchasing an unwanted item (we’ve got some tips for that, too).


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5. Cancel your Amazon purchases

We all goof from time to time. That’s OK and if you goof while shopping with your Alexa device, then there is a way to cancel unwanted purchases. 

If you purchased items through Amazon’s 1-Click, you have a 30-minute window to cancel it before it’s completed. To cancel your order, head to your Amazon account on your phone or computer and select Your Orders. Next, you’ll see a list of all your orders. You’ll see an option to Cancel Items, and from here you can check the box next to each item you want to cancel. When you’re done, choose, “Cancel checked items.”

6. Order Prime Now items with Alexa

You can order Prime Now items through Alexa, but you need to be sure you specify you want the Now service. 

Say something like, “Order (item) from Prime Now.” If the item is available for two-hour delivery, it will be added to your cart and you’ll need to order and confirm the item to have it shipped promptly.  

7. Get discounts and deals with Alexa’s help

Saving money with Alexa is easy. Just say, “Alexa, find me deals on Amazon.” 

Alexa will list an item that is on sale and ask if you want to buy it. You can say “yes” to add it to your cart or “no” to go on to the next deal.

Amazon Echo Show

Ask Alexa, “What are my deals?”


Amazon

8. Get gift ideas with Alexa

Alexa can help you come up with gift ideas and add them to a list so you can purchase them later, which can be a lifesaver during the holiday season. Brian Bennett has a great guide on how to shop for holiday gifts with Alexa

Can’t come up with a gift idea, even with its help? You can also order gift cards with Alexa.

9. Use Alexa to track your packages

You can use Alexa to track your packages once they’re ordered, too. Just ask, “Alexa, where is my package?” Alexa will tell you when the items were purchased and when they are scheduled to arrive at your home.

You can also have her automatically give you shipping updates by going to the app and tapping Settings > Notifications > Shipping notifications. Then, toggle on the notifications you would like. When there’s new information, Alexa will let you know.