RetailTechNews’ weekly Amazon Watch brings you some of the company’s biggest moves from the past seven days, analysing how the giant is revolutionising the retail space. In this week’s edition: Alexa AR glasses show future of retail; Prime’s global presence; and Voice-assistants in cars.
Alexa AR Glasses Show Future of Retail
Startup Vuzix and Amazon’s Alexa have teamed up on a pair of augmented reality glasses. The glasses, which can accept commands from Alexa, have the ability to display information about what is in the wearer’s view.
With augmented reality becoming an increasingly important aspect of the retail experience, these glasses could have a lasting impact on the consumer path to purchase, enabling the opening of more virtual stores.
However, the fact that the product was made possible by Amazon’s third-party hardware which enables manufacturers to integrate Alexa into their devices, is perhaps even more important. Sonos have already used this capability in their smart-speaker, and it is a crucial part in Amazon’s plan to have Alexa everywhere.
If all tech companies can build in Alexa to their products, voice-activated assistants will be with us all day, and the amount of data Amazon can collect on what we are buying, when, and how, is staggering.
Prime’s Global Presence
Amazon has said it shipped more than five billion items through its quick-delivery Prime program, while more people also joined the service worldwide than in any other previous year.
This growth has seen more than 100 million items available on Prime through two-day delivery, double the amount being sold through the platform a year ago. To ship all those items and fill all those orders, Amazon upped its global footprint of distribution centers by 30% this year.
The platform also expanded the program to Mexico, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Singapore, meaning Prime now reachers 16 countries worldwide. These expansions will have far-reaching ramifications for retailers across the globe. Amazon is no longer just testing it’s Prime offerings on the west coast of America, but rolling them out everywhere. We can expect to see more of this in 2018, as customers demanding faster delivery of goods becomes a global trend.
Voice Assistants in Cars
At the CES conference in Las Vegas, Toyota has announced they will begin integrating Amazon voice assistant Alexa into selected models, starting in 2018. This will allow Toyota drivers to use voice prompts to play music, find weather reports, identify local businesses, and navigate to destinations.
For the consumer, this new addition will also enable new features in the cars, such as the ability to start the engine remotely, or lock the car doors, by giving a command through another Alexa device. This means an extension of the connected home to their cars, meaning a greater integration with their day-to-day lives.
As consumers begin to demand smarter technologies in all parts of their lives, this will be the first integration of a voice assistant; and we can expect to see Toyota’s competitors following suit. Successful integration of Alexa into Toyota vehicles also shows the gulf between Amazon and other voice-activated assistants in the space. This will put pressure on Google Home and Apple’s Home Pod to enable integration into other vehicles, if they are to tap into the burgeoning connected-car market.