Amazon offers over 25,000 Alexa skills from third-party developers, but nearly all of them have one thing in common: they’re free, leaving developers without a way to make money off them. That’s changing today: Amazon finally opening up the smart assistant to anyone to sell one-time in-skill purchases that can expand what a skill can do, along with the addition of Amazon’s own payment system for purchasing physical goods.
The first addition is in-skill purchases, which work almost exactly like in-app purchases for smartphone apps. Developers will be able to offer either one-time purchases to unlock new content or ongoing subscriptions that enhance the skill. Developers get 70 percent of revenue from the in-skill purchase, and Amazon is ensuring that Prime members will always get some sort of extra benefits here, whether that be discounted prices or early access to new features. Amazon had previously opened up in-skill purchases to several developers, including Sony, The Ellen Show, and TuneIn, but today marks the first time that it’s generally available.
The other half of Amazon’s new monetization option is opening up Amazon Pay, letting third-party developers sell their products through their Alexa skills similar to how you can already order things from Amazon through the voice assistant. TGI Fridays and 1-800-Flowers are the first companies to create skills with the new feature, letting users place orders for food or flowers directly through the Alexa voice interface using the same payment information that’s already attached to their Amazon account.
It’s important to note that while Amazon is letting developers add these monetization options to their skills, all Alexa skills will still be completely free to use. The new options are also not Amazon’s first foray into rewarding developers for creating new skills for Alexa, either. The company already offers an Alexa Developer Rewards program that pays creators of skills that “drive some of the highest customer engagement,” as determined by Amazon.