There’s a whole host of tricks your Amazon Echo is capable of and, among them, is a pretty neat one: you can order products right off Amazon using voice commands. Read on as we show you how to enable it, disable it, and add a PIN protection code to the ordering process.
Why Do I Want Do Do This?
If you arrived at this tutorial via search engine query there’s more than a few reasons that could have brought you here. Some people will be interested in taking advantage of the benefits of voice purchasing (it’s super handy to reorder something with a simple voice command when you’ve just run out of it).
Other people will want to disable the voice ordering system so their kids or roommates don’t go around ordering things willy nilly. Finally, even if you do like the idea of ordering items off Amazon with a simple voice command you may want to, either for security purposes or to simply protect against accidental ordering, place a 4 digit PIN on the ordering system.
Let’s take a look at how to even use the voice ordering system in the first place so you can decide if you want it on, off, or locked down, and then we’ll dig into how to do just that.
Using Alexa To Place Orders
There are two things you can purchase with your voice via the Alexa system. You can purchase music and you can reorder physical items. Why limit the ordering of physical items to reorders? The Amazon inventory is so vast and it’s difficult to convey all the information about products (especially those available from different vendors, with different shipping options, and so on) via the Alexa system; as such Amazon has opted, wisely we’d say, to limit voice ordering to just items you’ve already purchased and are familiar with.
When buying music through the Amazon Digital Music Store you can approach your purchasing one of two ways. First you can shop by song or album, as well as by artist with commands like:
Alexa, shop for the song [name].
Alexa, shop for [album name].
Alexa, shop for [new] songs by [artist name].
The other way to purchase music is to purchase the sample you’re currently listening to. Sometimes when you use a command like “Alexa, play ‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift” you’ll only hear a snippet of the song and will be told it’s just sample because the song is not part of the Prime music library. In such instances you can use the following commands to purchase the song or album:
Alexa, buy this [song/album].
Alexa, add this [song/album] to my library.
Like with all Amazon Music purchases any songs you purchase are stored for free on your Amazon account and you can access them from any device with the Amazon Music app installed.
Reordering Physical Items
If you buy a lot off Amazon and/or you take advantage of the Subscribe & Save system (where you get routine purchases like paper towels and detergent off Amazon at a discount) then you’ll likely find reordering via the Alexa to be very convenient both in practice and in terms of ease of use.
The command to reorder products via Alexa is as simple as it gets:
Alexa, reorder [item name].
So, for example, if you regularly order Mr. Super Sparkle Toothpaste off Amazon and you’ve just run out, you could simply say “Alexa, reorder Mr. Super Sparkle Toothpaste” and after a moment of calculation Alexa would respond with something like “I’ve found Mr. Super Sparkle Toothpaste in your order history. The order total is $5.99. Should I order it?” Simply reply “Yes” or “No”.
If Alexa can’t find a good match or you say “No” when she asks to order it on your behalf, you can open up your Amazon Alexa app for alternative items and additional details.
Enabling and Disabling Voice Purchasing
If all that sounds great and you’re ready to start using your Alexa voice assistant to place orders, let’s take a moment to confirm that you have voice ordering enabled. Not so thrilled about the idea? We can turn it off in the same location.
To do so start by opening up your Amazon Alexa app on your smartphone or navigating to echo.amazon.com while logged into the Amazon account the controls the Echo.
Navigate to Settings in the left-hand menu and select “Voice Purchasing” as seen above.
In the Voice Purchasing section there is a simple toggle beside “Purchase by voice”. Toggle it on or off depending on whether or not you wish to enable or disable voice purchasing.
Securing Voice Purchasing Via PIN
While we’re in the Voice Purchasing menu, there is an additional tweak we can apply. If you wish to use voice purchasing but want to add in a PIN code to either prevent accidental purchases or other users of the Echo from making purchases without your permission, you can so do so here.
In the “Require confirmation code” section enter a 4 digit code. Select “Save Changes” once you have entered your code to commit the new security code to your Echo.
There’s two important things to note about the PIN code system. First, you have to say it out loud when using the voice ordering system. Second, it appears in plain text in your Amazon Alexa app. It’s not a perfect system, to be sure, and we recommend selecting a totally unique PIN for this process and not the same one you use for your bank account or to, say, secure the media center’s adult content from the kids (because they’re bound to hear your say it at some point).
Nonetheless it’s still a nice way to ensure that anyone who has access to your Echo can’t willy nilly order things (and it will prevent the primary users from accidentally ordering things because reading off the PIN like you’re giving security clearance to the ship computer on Star Trek definitely gives you time to think about a purchase).
Have a question about your Amazon Echo or the Alexa voice assistant? Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll do our best to answer it.