Amazon’s Alexa gets a workout, FBA grows and yearly updates

January 8, 2016 03:10 PM

Alexa says hello: Amazon’s Alexa software—the voice recognition program the e-retailer built into the Amazon Echo voice-based digital assistant device it launched last year—will soon be used beyond the device. Several companies announced this week during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that they will use the software in their products. The headliner is Ford Motor Co., which says it will integrate Alexa with Ford’s Sync Connect in-car technology to provide voice control access within the car and between the car and other web-connected devices in the home. For example, a consumer who has connected her garage door to the web can, while driving her connected Ford car,  ask it whether she left the garage door open and, if so, tell it to close it. She will also be able, with voice commands, to lock or unlock doors, among other functions.

Year-end highlights: Amazon released its annual roundup of company achievements for 2015, which called out some operational figures. It reported:

  • The number of items ordered by consumers around the world on Cyber Monday: 23 million
  • 80% of consumers who bought a physical product on Amazon during the holiday season bought from a seller on the Amazon marketplace.
  • The number of merchants using the Fulfillment by Amazon program, which picks, packs and ships goods on a merchant’s behalf, grew by more than 50% in 2015. A year ago, Amazon said the number of sellers using FBA had grown 65% in 2014.
  • Correspondingly, the number of items shipped by FBA grew more than 60% over the holidays. In 2014, Amazon said such shipments had grown more than 50% during the 2014 holiday period.
  • Same-day delivery is available in 16 metro areas in the United States, up from 12 at the close of 2014.
  • Sellers participating in the Seller Fulfilled Prime program, which Amazon rolled out slowly starting last summer, have made 500,000 products newly eligible for Prime two-day shipping.

The new USO?: Perhaps taking a cue from Bob Hope, Amazon announced this week that U.S. troops and their families will be able to view Amazon original video programming through an arrangement it has with the American Forces Network, a TV network that broadcasts to military bases in the United States and Navy ships. Programs will air in weekly installments starting next week. Amazon also announced, in the same blog post, that Amazon Prime members in the U.S. military can stream Amazon Video on 24 international military bases, including in such countries as Afghanistan and Turkey, where the Amazon Video streaming service is not available to citizens of those countries.. Amazon says it started working to unblock content on U.S. bases in other countries in 2014.

Amazon is the No. 1 e-retailer in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide.




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