We spoke with representatives at Amazon and Whole Foods to learn more about the new feature.
There's a laundry list of things that Alexa can do for you nowadays, and placing Amazon orders for kitchen staples via Alexa has previously proved useful for many shoppers—but this new feature might just be the best yet. Starting today, Prime customers who live in cities where Whole Foods delivers can shop, pay, and have groceries delivered to their homes using their voice and their Echo gadget.
Whole Foods first began offering same-day, two-hour delivery for Amazon Prime members earlier this year in Atlanta and San Francisco—but today's launch of the Alexa-enabled ordering system means you can enjoy delivery without even having to set foot in a Whole Foods supermarket.
To use the feature, Amazon Prime members simply ask Alexa to add food items to their Whole Foods cart—quite literally. "Alexa, add eggs to my Whole Foods cart," is the voice command that Whole Foods representatives initially highlighted in their first press release. After you ask Alexa to add something to your cart, the Whole Foods cart located within your Prime Now mobile app will be automatically updated. When you're finished adding items to your cart, you'll be able to review your order, select a two-hour delivery time window, and pay for your purchase within the Prime Now app.
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After adding an item to your cart, Alexa will vocally confirm it, then ask "What else?" until you've finished shopping. You'll have to download the Prime Now app in order to use the voice-to-order feature, as you'll need to review the products in your cart before making a purchase.
We immediately had questions for Amazon and Whole Foods about this new feature—will Alexa be smart enough to take orders for very specific items? For example, if I wanted Alexa to add Tofutti's Vegan Cream Cheese to my order—would she be able to do it? Apparently so, says Angie Newman, a public relations manager for Amazon.
How exactly does Alexa know which product to place in your cart when asking for something as generic as "eggs?"
"Alexa picks the best available match for your request, considering your order history and purchasing behavior of other customers," Newman says. "It’s easy to switch the item in your Whole Foods cart to a different one using the Prime Now App."
Newman says that Alexa may not be able to understand ordering more than one item for now—if you'd like two dozen eggs, for example, you'd need to edit the quantity within your Amazon Prime Now mobile app.
For those who have previously shopped using their Amazon Echo or any other Alexa-enabled device, you might recall that users can place Amazon.com orders using their voice as well. Starting today, you can now distinguish where you'd like to purchase a generic household item (such as paper towels, for example) before any order is placed, according to Venture Beat.
There's no extra costs for Prime members to use the new ordering feature at Whole Foods, but you'll need to meet minimum purchase amounts based on your location. If you're wondering if you live in an area that's eligible for voice ordering, simply ask Alexa to "shop Whole Foods."