How developers can make money off of Amazon Alexa skills

Amazon just opened up in-skill purchasing for Alexa skills, one of many ways to make money on the platform.

Making Alexa more useful with Skills

It's no secret that voice is the next major platform for developers, but the novelty of the technology often hits a snag with one question: How do I make money on voice?

While it was originally posited that advertising would swamp the major voice platforms, that hasn't yet happened in a major way. Instead, top platforms like Amazon Alexa are offering different paths to monetization. (Note: This article on Amazon Alexa skills is also available as a free PDF download.)

One of the ways that Amazon allows developers to make money is through in-skill purchasing (ISP) for Alexa skills, announced in a May blog post. The service allows developers to sell "premium digital content to enrich your Alexa skill experience," the post said.

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Developers can use the feature to sell one-time purchase for feature or content upgrades, or subscriptions for premium content over a given period of time, the post said. Skills, however, will remain free to use, so that a user can clearly "understand the product for sale prior to purchasing via voice," the post noted.

After a developer outlines the offering and what it will cost, Amazon handles the purchasing flow on the backend, the post said. Self-service tools can be used by developers to manage products and improve their sales.

Customers pay for purchases with the payment information on their Amazon account. Developers will be paid 70% of the list price, before any discount is offered by Amazon, the post said.

"To add one-time purchases and subscriptions, you'll create and manage in-skill products using the ASK Command-Line Interface (CLI)," the post said. "Then you add code to check inventory, pass purchase requests to Amazon, and determine what's already been purchased. Additionally, don't forget to create a tax profile for payment purposes and test your skill before you submit it for certification. Over time, you can monitor sales and payments using the analytics dashboard."

Another option to make money off of your Alexa skills is through Alexa Developer Rewards. Eligible skills that drive customer engagement will be automatically entered into the program by Amazon each month, after the firm notifies the developer, the post said.

Additional money can be made by selling physical goods and services through Alexa Skills, the post said. "Alexa offers a new sales channel for brands and merchants who want to sell their products and services through their Alexa skills," such as tickets or product delivery, the post said.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

  • Amazon has made in-skill purchasing (ISP) for Alexa skills generally available in the US for subscriptions and one-time purchases.
  • Alexa developers can also make money by selling goods through their skills or through the Alexa Developer Rewards program.

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Image: CNET