Ocado has become the first UK supermarket to launch an app for Amazon Alexa, beating its more mainstream rivals.
Supermarket giants like Tesco and Asda have been pipped to the post by digital-only grocery retailer Ocado in the race to build an app for Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant. The online supermarket, which launched back in 2000 and can now deliver to over 70% of the UK population, sent the app live today – it can now be downloaded through your Amazon account.
“Grocery shopping should be quick, easy and convenient,” said Lawrence Hene, Commercial Director at Ocado, commenting on the announcement. “Using voice technology, we’ve made it even easier by developing our new app that will enable our customers to add to their Ocado baskets without lifting a finger.”
The following functions will be available:
- Add a product to an existing Ocado order or basket
- Find out which products are currently in season
- Receive inspiration for recipes
- Check existing order or basket to see if a certain product has already been added
- Keep track of an order by asking “where’s my order?”
- Confirm the time until which an existing order can be amended
In a statement sent to Trusted Reviews, John Rakowski, Director of Technology Strategy at AppDynamics, described the announcement as an “intriguing development”. That’s because Amazon is technically an Ocado rival, given that it also sells groceries to customers in the UK:
“The announcement that Alexa users can now shop with Ocado via voice demonstrates the continued momentum that is building in speech-activated services and marks a very intriguing development in the battle for online supermarket shoppers. Ocado, who could now be considered a competitor to Amazon, will be competing for grocery shoppers on Amazon’s own platform.”
It’s not exactly clear just yet how useful Ocado customers will find the ability to amend their orders using their voices. The Alexa skill won’t be able to create an order, for instance, so you’ll have to either work with a basket or an existing order when adding items – and then rely on the conventional order process to actually complete your purchase.
Still, Rakowski believes it may be positive move overall, given the growing consensus that voice assistants are becoming increasingly useful over time:
“While there may be some mainstream consumer scepticism about the practical value of voice assistants, we’re certain to see further deployments of the technology by Amazon and other digital retailers in the near future.”
“Ten years ago, the launch of the iPhone and the advent of apps drew a fair degree of initial scepticism,” Rakowski continued. “Now apps are part of everyday life, and more so, will become crucial in the retail battleground.”
He added: “Ultimately, the value of voice assistants will be determined by good user experience. Being an online-first supermarket, Ocado has already helped to change the way we shop and you can bet that other retailers will be closely monitoring this new way of engaging with customers.”
Ocado, which claims to be the UK’s only online supermarket, will offer Amazon Alexa functionality starting Tuesday, August 29, 2017.
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