Find secret Alexa-only discounts when you order through Amazon Echo. Here’s how

The absolute best deals are only available if you order with Alexa, available on Amazon smart speakers like the Echo Dot with Clock (left) and Echo Dot.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Did you know Amazon offers a few secret discounts only available through your smart speaker or display? In June, during Amazon Prime Day, I noticed a couple of these Alexa-only discounts offering even more savings than the run-of-the-mill discounts. Take, for example, the Alexa-only deal on Amazon's Blink Mini security camera. 

If you kept reading past the Prime Day discounted price of £20 (already £15 lower than the regular £35 price), you would have come across this jaw-dropper: "Only £14.99 when you order with Alexa." That's almost 60% off!

I chucked two of them in my Amazon shopping cart (using my voice, of course), then immediately emailed Amazon to ask why in the name of Blue Origin is it making customers jump through Alexa hoops for Prime Day in order to get the very best deals? (Although, fun fact: Alexa-only deals were a thing well before Prime Day, and they continue to be a thing after.)

Shopping by voice with Alexa isn't exactly easy, but it's not terribly difficult, either.

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Later that evening, Director for Alexa Shopping Marie-Eve Logan got back to me: "With our Alexa deals, we're making it easier for customers to discover products and access savings by just using their voice." I may not be as fluent in PR as a native speaker, but the word "easier" struck me as key, because it's a tacit acknowledgement that shopping by voice is actually kind of hard and Amazon wants it not to be.

What, then, makes difficult things easier to do?

You can Buy It Now when shopping with Alexa, but if it's just the discounts you're after, adding the item to your cart with Alexa is all you need to do to get them.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Answer: Practice (I hear it can even make perfect). In other words, Amazon wants its customers to practice shopping by voice until it gets easier. Although I imagine perfect might be a bit too lofty of a goal, challenge accepted.

Here's how to get started.

First, make sure Alexa hears you

Like many Alexa adventures, a shopping excursion on your Amazon Echo device should begin in the settings menu. Alexa is going to serve up individual deals, then expect you to respond to each of them, one at a time. Thing is, Alexa will glitch out and drop that cadence unless Follow-up Mode is turned on, like so:

1. Open the mobile Alexa app and tap Devices on the bottom menu bar. 2. Tap Echo & Alexa on the top menu bar, then scroll to the device you'll be shopping on.  3. Scroll down and tap on Follow-up Mode, then tap the toggle to turn it on (if it's not already).

4. Back out to your list of devices and repeat as necessary. You'll have to toggle on Follow-up Mode for each Amazon Echo smart speaker you want to shop from, or -- better yet -- you can use an Amazon Show smart display instead, if that's an option. (I'll explain the advantages to shopping on an Echo Show in a bit -- spoiler alert: it helps that you can see what you're buying -- but otherwise, this guide is designed for shoppers limited to voice commands and responses.)

Be sure to turn on Follow-up Mode in Alexa settings, or else Alexa won't be listening for your responses. 

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The key to Alexa shopping is this one command

Once you've made sure Follow-up Mode is on, every shopping excursion with Alexa should begin with these five words: "Alexa, what are my deals?" That was the go-to command before Prime Day 2021 and will continue to be long after. What happens next is quite tedious -- you're really earning these discounts.

Alexa will start reading, one by one, from a list of deals. (They're not exclusive to you, by the way -- they're "yours" the same way Amazon wants you to make everything you see on its site yours, by selling it to you.) After each listing, Alexa will ask if you want to add the item to your cart or hear the next deal. Just like shopping on Amazon with taps and clicks, you can also Buy It Now, but you don't have to.

Merely adding the item to your cart will get you the Alexa-only discounted price, so you might as well check out on a device where you can see what you're getting. 

All you need to do to get started shopping with Alexa is say, "Alexa, what are my deals?"

Chris Monroe/CNET

Shopping on an Echo Show feels familiar

Let's face it, as smart displays advance further and further, they're basically turning into mounted tablets, not unlike Amazon's own Fire line of devices (just less mobile). So it's not much of a shocker that asking Alexa for your deals on an Echo Show smart screen feels much like shopping in the Amazon mobile app, albeit more limited.  It's helpful to see exactly what you're putting into your shopping cart on an Echo Show, and you aren't inundated with clutter like you are on other screen devices.

If you have an Echo Show and you want to shop Alexa deals, you should use it.

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