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Amazon's Alexa adds Prime Now to its voice shopping

The voice assistant wants to make it even easier to buy, but is anyone using the Echo to shop yet?

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"Alexa, order from Prime Now -- now!"

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Running out of toilet paper will never be the same again.

Amazon on Tuesday said customers can now use Alexa to shop from its Prime Now rapid-delivery service. That means people in the over 30 US cities with Prime Now can call out to their Echo devices to shop for tens of thousands of items -- including diapers, dish soap, NyQuil and Doritos -- that will arrive in as little as two hours.

Also, alcohol delivery is available in Seattle, Amazon's hometown, and beer and wine are available in Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio. (Alcohol shipments require customers to show ID to the deliver worker.)

Amazon has been working to make Alexa a more powerful shopping tool, as part of its broader effort to make it as easy as possible to buy from the company. The e-retailer last July introduced the ability to order millions of items on Amazon.com through the voice assistant. In January, it added restaurant deliveries, too. Throwing Prime Now's service into the mix was a next logical step.

But shouting an order to a gadget is still not the way most people shop, even with millions of Echo devices sold and Alexa coming into more products. Spencer Millerberg, CEO of e-commerce data provider One Click Retail, said in an interview last month that voice shopping on Amazon was still "extremely small right now."

"We do not trust our ears enough to order major products on Alexa right now," he said, adding that people prefer to go to Amazon's website or mobile app instead.

Alexa and the Echo only came out in late 2014, so that may change someday.

Voice-enabled Prime Now shopping is available on Echo devices, the Fire tablet and Fire TV. Customers need to be Prime members in the US with a default payment and shipping address to use the new service. People can make a Prime Now purchase by saying, "Alexa, order popcorn from Prime Now" or "Alexa, order tissues from Prime Now." Multiple items can be added per order and each order needs to reach the Prime Now minimum price for deliveries.

Alexa can recommend a product from Prime Now's catalog to send over. The voice assistant will also automatically pick the next available two-hour delivery slot.

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