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Business Observer Friday, Mar. 23, 2018 8 months ago

Supplement seller develops feature for Amazon device

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As a feature for customers, a Sarasota company has developed an Alexa Skill for Amazon Echo.
by: Grier Ferguson Staff Writer

Sarasota-based Professional Supplement Center has developed an Alexa Skill that allows customers to use their Amazon Echo devices to track packages coming from the company. It also allows them to get more information about vitamins and supplements the company sells.

Don McSwain, a software engineer who works for Professional Supplement Center, created the Skill app. McSwain tells Coffee Talk that ironically, developing the skill for the Amazon device is a way for the company to compete with Amazon. “Our idea was to innovate as much as possible and stay on the leading edge,” he says.

The function makes it simpler for customers to order products from Professional Supplement Center, too. Now they can connect to the company and order items from the device.

It’s introducing the Skill through a soft launch now, allowing family and friends to test it before opening it up to a wider audience. “We’re letting it grow organically before our marketing push,” McSwain says. He’s also still tweaking the Skill, improving it before the full launch.

McSwain says he would recommend other small businesses introduce Alexa Skills for their customers, too. “The commitment is a little high if you’re a small company and you don’t have developers on staff. Developers need to have skills in the Amazon toolset.”

Although the company doesn’t know yet how it will impact sales, owner Sheri Davis is optimistic, hoping the Skill will encourage customers to stay with the company instead of using Amazon or other companies. She says, “One of our main pushes is to keep existing customers.” 

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