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Millions welcome Alexa home for the holidays

The number of homes with the ability to order from Amazon via voice command got a boost as Amazon Echo and Echo Dot, which work with the Alexa service, were among Amazon’s best-selling devices this holiday season — characterized by the online retailer as its best ever.

Sales of devices in the Amazon Echo family were up over 9x compared to last year’s holiday season, with millions selling during the holiday period, according to a spokeswoman who declined to provide a specific number.

Neil Stern, senior partner at Chicago-based McMillanDoolittle said that while the devices are gaining momentum, the competitive threat posed to food retailers depends on what customers do with the devices.

An Amazon spokeswoman told SN she could not share data related to ordering groceries using Echo.

It’s Stern’s sense that users are interacting with the device that can play music and help with recipes, in ways that don’t involve ordering products.

Photo: Amazon

“I suspect that commerce is not big yet on the list of uses however, it continues a pattern of Amazon penetrating people’s lives— Prime, Pantry, Dash— that enables them to continue to play a larger role in gaining a bigger share of retail sales and a bigger share of life,” said Stern.

Jeff Wilke, CEO World Consumer for Amazon said in a statement "Echo and Echo Dot were the best-selling products across Amazon this year, and we’re thrilled that millions of new customers will be introduced to Alexa as a result. Despite our best efforts and ramped-up production, we still had trouble keeping them in stock. From turning on Christmas lights and playing holiday music to shopping for gifts and asking for help with cookie recipes, Alexa continues to get smarter every day.”

Some of the most popular food and drink-related holiday requests fielded by Alexa were:

  • Cooking tips on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve for turkey, prime rib and chocolate chip cookies.
  • Tom Collins and Manhattan drink recipes from Alexa skills like The Bartender, Mixologist and DrinkBoy.
  • Chocolate chip and sugar cookies were the favorite recipes from Alexa skills like Food Network and Allrecipes. 
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