How to Create an Amazon Alexa Skill for Your Business


When Amazon introduced Alexa, it changed how people interacted with devices. The convenience and ease of voice assistance has pushed this technology into nearly every new device, from laptops to even lawn mowers.

While Alexa comes equipped with a wide range of uses, small businesses can also take advantage of this technology through Amazon’s Alexa for Business initiative, which provides resources and support for Alexa in the workplace. Business owners with Alexa devices, like the Echo, Echo Spot, Echo Dot or Echo Show, can use various voice commands to carry out important business tasks, like ordering new supplies or starting a video meeting. Businesses can also create their own skills with Alexa and use Amazon’s APIs to build on existing interfaces.

Google reports that 20 percent of mobile searches in 2016 were voice searches, and Amazon holds 76 percent of the smart device voice assistance. And if a business has a skill, it can help promote your brand and reach that voice-searching audience. The trick is making sure your Alexa skill doesn’t overlap with the competition.

Creating a customized skill with Alexa is a developer’s task, so it’s important to have a good handle on coding basics before you begin. Developers can use the Alexa Skills Kit to strategize and build new skills. The kit is a resource that provides step-by-step instructions. Depending on what you want to create, the Alexa interface supports Amazon’s coding language Lambda. You’ll also need an Amazon Developer account, which is a free service from Amazon.

Before you create an Alexa skill, it’s a good idea to review what productivity skills are already out there. The skill you’re looking to create may already exist, and you can install them to your Alexa devices through your Amazon account. Skills can range from calendar assistants to e-commerce platform plug-ins.

Amazon separates Alexa’s skills into various models, which include custom interactions, smart home skills, video skills, list skills and flash briefing skills. These pathways include varying support for developers. The flash briefing skills, for example, have a pre-built API that allows for more efficient skill-building while custom interaction skills require more legwork in defining terminology and the overall interaction model. This is the main difference between custom interactions and the rest of Amazon’s skill models. Defining terminology and the interaction model can provide more flexibility, but it can also entail more work.

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