‘Alexa, Help Me Shop for the Holidays’: 5 Ways to Use Your Echo Device to Buy Gifts

This story is part of Home TipsCNET’s collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

The holiday season is upon us and Christmas will be here before you know it. If you’re feeling down to the wire on holiday shopping, don’t panic — Alexa can help. Make the gift-buying process easy and more efficient by simply using your Amazon Echo device.

Instead of fighting through crowds at the mall or toggling between hundreds of store webpages, you can use Amazon’s voice assistant to ease your gift-giving anxiety from the comfort of your own home.

Alexa can manage your shopping lists, give you a curated selection of gift ideas,  hunt down the best holiday deals, track your shipped packages and even help you shop for your hard-to-buy-for loved ones. Here’s five ways your Amazon Echo device can help with shopping this holiday season and the Alexa voice commands you can use for purchasing. For more, here’s a complete guide to voice purchasing with your Echo device and 10 Alexa hacks to get you into the Christmas spirit.

1. Research gift ideas with Alexa

Amazon’s database of products and vendors is beyond vast, so let Alexa sift through the online retailer’s massive inventory for you. It could save you time you’d otherwise waste scrolling through countless retailer webpages. Plus, Alexa’s search returns may spark new ideas for gifts, too.

Start by asking Alexa something like, “Alexa, shop for women’s scarves” for Mom. Perhaps Dad would appreciate a pair of waterproof boots. What about stocking stuffers for the kids? Regardless of what you’re shopping for, Alexa can compile a list of items to match your request.

This process is particularly handy if you use one of Amazon’s smart displays. On the Echo Show or Echo DotAlexa pulls up a product list in seconds. The voice assistant then describes the first few products. You can buy items immediately or view them later within the Alexa mobile app.

shopping list in the Alexa app

Access your Alexa-created gift list in the Alexa app.

Screenshot by Brian Bennett/CNET

2. Build a shopping list with Alexa

When browsing Amazon products with your Echo, you can keep track of promising gift items with a shopping list. Say, “Alexa, add this to my shopping list,” which will put the product you’re viewing into the list associated with your Amazon account.

If you haven’t yet started searching for gifts, but want to keep track of ideas you have, create a custom list with Alexa. To get started, say, “Alexa, create a gift list.” Then start with something like, “Alexa, add golf clubs for Dad to my gift list.”

Amazon echo laying on holiday bows and packaging

“Alexa, add the Echo Dot to my gift list.”

Angela Lang/CNET

3. Look for deals and discounts

With Alexa, saving money can be easy. Simply ask, “Alexa, what are my deals?” Or say “Alexa, find me deals on Amazon.” Then the voice assistant will do the work.

Alexa will list an item that is on sale and ask if you want to buy it. You can respond “yes” which will add the item to your cart or “no” to go on to the next deal.

4. Buy gifts with Alexa voice commands

After finishing off your shopping lists, it’s purchase time. And Alexa makes as easy as can be. In fact, it’s as easy as saying, “Alexa, check out [name of product].”

But first you’ll need to allow voice purchasing on your Echo device. Here’s how.

Start by opening the Alexa app. Tap the Menu icon and select Settings > Account Settings > Voice Purchasing. Then toggle the button to on.

Voice purchasing also requires you to enable 1-Click ordering. To do this, open the 1-Click settings page on Amazon. It will take you to an Amazon page displaying your 1-Click payment setting. Look for the box that says if 1-Click is enabled or disabled and turn it to on. Here, you can enter or edit the payment information you wish to use.

For extra protection, you can enable Alexa to require a four-digit passcode every time you use voice purchasing. To set up your code, go to the Alexa app and tap More > Settings > Account Settings > Voice Purchasing > Purchase Confirmation > Manage. Then toggle on Voice Codetype in a four-digit code you’d like to use and tap Go. Make sure to remember the code because you’ll need it anytime you want to buy an item using your voice.

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5. Track your packages with Alexa

Since this is Amazon we’re talking about, Alexa can keep track of the purchases you’ve made through the retail giant.

Simply say, “Alexa, where is my package?” or “Alexa, track my package” or even “Alexa, where’s my stuff?” It’ll supply your order’s current shipping status and when it’s scheduled to arrive. Additionally, you can choose to receive shipping notifications for all your orders. In the Alexa app, go to Settings > Notifications > Shipping notifications. Next, toggle on the notifications you would like. When there’s new information, Alexa will let you know.

For more Alexa essentials, check out every Alexa command available now and the reason you should put an Amazon device in every room of your home. You can also find out the real cost of setting up an Amazon smart home.

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