Alexa skills top 80,000 after a big Alexa-powered holiday season

  • “Amazon had also said last month that more than 100 million Alexa devices had been sold to date, including the Echo Dot and other Echo-branded devices, along with those from third-parties.
  • Google, of course, quickly responded with a note that its Assistant AI will be on a billion devices by the end of January.
  • A new number Amazon shared yesterday was that the number of voice applications built for Alexa had now topped 80,000 worldwide. That’s up from the 70,000 skills Amazon was touting back in December.
  • The company said in November it now has more than 10,000 employees working on Alexa, as a point of reference. But it’s challenged in building up a knowledge base of questions and answers — something Google has worked on since the launch of its Knowledge Graph in 2012.”

How Amazon’s retail revolution is changing the way we shop –

Illustration by Aaron Robinson for The Verge

Today, thousands of products integrate with the company’s Alexa platform to make use of its voice search and query capabilities. Just as it once foresaw e-commerce, streaming, and cloud computing as the future of the internet, Amazon saw AI as not just something that could live within the smartphone — as Apple established with Siri and Google with its Assistant — but also in the home.

As it stands today, Amazon employs more than half a million people, more so than any other technology company in the country and second only to Walmart in the US. But the eventual result of its investments in robotics and AI is that technology’s biggest and fast-growing workforce could see that growth start to slow and, perhaps years down the line, even shrink as robots tackle ever more complicated tasks. In the process, the company may develop robots for use outside its fulfillment centers. Amazon has already changed how we shop and, by extension, how we live our lives. Its next big step could be changing how we work.

AI eCommerce News – Sept 21st

The second reason chatbots and voice assistants are likely to make notable change is that we’re seeing businesses looking to maximize their cost-efficiency by streamlining their operations. Both of these factors combined explain the rise in popularity of AI bots providing the experience of a personal assistant, be it a chatbot or a voice assistant.
Last Christmas, millions of people purchased Alexa products, and sales of Echo speakers increased ninefold. Currently, one in five people would consider making purchases through a bot and would spend an average of £500 ($598.34) using AI to make purchases. Gartner predicts that AI bots will power more than four in five customer service interactions (85 percent) by 2020.
Voice-activated virtual assistants are present in a lot of devices and while their functions overlap, they all have their own isolated and defined ecosystems. But a collaboration between Amazon and Microsoft will not only change that, it will potentially have a big impact on the future of eCommerce.
The collaboration between the companies will allow Alexa and Cortana to talk to one another, giving Windows 10 users the capacity to access Alexa’s skills by giving voice commands to Cortana. Meanwhile, Alexa will be able to assist Amazon Echo users to stay on top of all the appointments and reminders that Cortana has gathered.
It’s just the nature of the business. With all of the excitement surrounding innovative solutions and emerging platforms and hardware, tech developers and consumers, alike, are constantly looking ahead. However, constantly living in the future tense somewhat blinds us to the growth that occurs in certain avenues like ecommerce. According to a study by the International Trade Administration, ecommerce is expected to grow by 30.7 percent in 2017, which is an incredible figure when you think about the scope of the industry.
The ecommerce giant has been ramping up its connected devices portfolio ever since it outed the original Echo smart speaker in November 2014 — a device we dubbed “a tad baffling, but also intriguing” at the time.
The speaker went on to become something of a surprise hit for Amazon, whose prior mobile hardware forays had badly flopped. And while it has never broken out Echo sales figures, it’s clear the idea of a smart speaker has excited huge interest from industry, dovetailing with rising hype around voice interfaces as the next big user interaction shift, as computing becomes increasingly embedded into the environment where it might not be viable (or desirable) to have lots of screens.

AI technology can also help combine the efficiency often associated with online browsing with the immediate access physical stores provide. For example, groceries can utilize mobile apps that would allow clients to check what they need online, scan a barcode, order the products and check them out without having to go through the checkout line. This type of efficiency allows busy shoppers to finish their task with no interruptions and will undoubtedly keep them going back to that store.

The Chatbot Challenge (

Late yesterday I set out on a mission. My goal…to find a handful of companies promoting their chatbot through a call-to-action on their website.
As it turns out…NO. It’s not easy at all. There are plenty of companies promoting their chatbots on their Facebook pages, but that’s a given…table-stakes.
To narrow my search, I decided to start with large companies that have highly ranked chatbots within the “Discover” tab of Facebook Messenger. I searched the websites for Subway, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Fandango, Capital One, The Weather Channel, Nike, Kohls, Sears, 1-800-Flowers, Sephoria, Walgreens, Petco, Walmart, ESPN, Kayak…and many more.
I checked homepages, footer links, help, support, customer service, pages related to mobile…you name it…and I found nothing…zero. So, as a last ditch effort, I performed a simple search for the term “chatbot” on a handful sites…but still no luck.

Then, like a mid-day solar eclipse, I found the holy grail at I discovered that they’re promoting their Messenger Chatbot on their homepage (image below). In fact, they have provided it with one of THE highest traffic placements on the entire homepage…directly adjacent to the Search feature.

So, here’s your mission, if you accept the challenge. Try to find a call-to-action on a website driving traffic to a chatbot. The examples can be as deep and hidden as you’d like, but placements on the company Facebook page do not count.

Good Luck   

Artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots would be key areas of focus for retailers

Mobile salesdrive unexpected UK e-commerce growth

“The index report predicted that UK e-commerce sales would grow 14% in 2017. Capgemini’s Unadkat said that artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots would be key areas of focus for retailers in the coming year. Tools like AI voice assistants and chatbots in mobile apps and mobile messaging platforms could help eliminate the screen size pain point by introducing more voice capabilities that minimize the need to manually type in product names, payment credentials, and shipping information. That will make these tools an important part of retailers’ mobile strategies going forward.”