4 reasons Alexa is a win for Peapod
Last month, Chicago-based grocery delivery service Peapod launched Ask Peapod, a skill for hands-free voice ordering to enable immediate, in-the-moment additions to shoppers’ weekly grocery carts. The service uses Alexa, an intelligent personal assistant developed by Amazon.com, which is capable of voice interaction, playing music or audiobooks, sharing headlines or weather updates, and even ordering products or takeout through a number of chains and services.
Alexa debuted in 2015 with Amazon’s first Echo device, succeeded by the more affordable Echo Dot and other devices running the assistant. As of January, more than 8 million people own an Alexa-enabled device, up 60 percent from two months prior, and likely fewer than the number of owners today. This suggests that consumers have embraced and continue to welcome hands-free virtual assistants – and the stress relief they provide – into their lives.
The Ahold USA division’s integration of the technology into the ordering process is a first in grocery, and one that comes from a grocer already known for its excellent work in creating convenient meal solutions, says Steve Frenda, managing director, community development at the Path to Purchase Institute, a sister brand of Progressive Grocer. Therefore, Ask Peapod could be another great win for the delivery service because:
1. It’s simple – Alexa-enabled devices allow for effortless engagement with technology, meaning questions and requests are addressed instantly and naturally, says Chris Bryson, CEO of Unata, a Toronto-based omnichannel solutions provider. These engagements work best when the requests are short, meaning that adding items to a list lends itself well to the platform.
“The longer the conversation goes on, the more frustrating the interface becomes,” says Cat de Merode, Peapod’s VP of product. Therefore, a solution that allows for adding one simple thing at a time was an excellent place for Peapod to start – and is an excellent starting point for other grocers, too.
2. It’s kitchen-friendly – Some 51 percent of those who own an Alexa-enabled device keep it in the kitchen, de Merode assets. This makes sense, as the kitchen is the center of the home and a major gathering place. “And that’s obviously right in the space where we play to,” she notes.
“So that seems like a natural connection.” Already, Alexa offers many kitchen-friendly benefits, such as sharing recipes, setting timers, playing music and more, that help the cooking process. But now, if the at-home chef gets his hands covered in olive oil, he doesn’t have to get grease on his phone, tablet or keyboard while ordering more or setting a reminder to do so. The added benefits that Alexa offers in sharing recipes, setting timers, playing music, turning on or off lights, and more also help in the cooking process.
3. It drives shopper loyalty – Alexa-enabled ordering is another next step in consumers’ technological dependence on the shopping process – one tool in the bigger picture, Bryson says. And the stronger and broader the ecosystem of digital services a retailer enables, the more they will reinforce each other and drive up adoption.
“Voice is likely to benefit shoppers who are already shopping online the most, further cementing their loyalty while also drawing in new shoppers and exposing them to the ranges of services the grocer offers,” he observes.
4. It alleviates some of shoppers’ biggest frustrations – Building a list for grocery shopping is both time-consuming and exhausting – one of the more stressful parts of the shopping process, and possibly the most if the shopper isn’t entering a physical store. However, Ask Peapod allows for building an order "at the speed of thought," without using a smartphone or pen and paper, Bryson assures.
Given that it takes an average of six or seven sessions via Alexa to build a shopping list, according to de Merode, it’s likely that many users will be able to build a full list by the week’s end if they name several products a day in passing, eliminating the time spent sitting down and wracking one’s brain to think of what the family needs.
“If we can fit ourselves into their lifestyle in a way that doesn’t require them to completely change their habits but just modifies them slightly over time, it can significantly change shopping habits by just being a better solution for your family,” she notes.