# Monetization

With In-Skill Purchasing (ISP), you can sell premium content via "products" in your Alexa skills. This offers a great way of monetizing your Alexa skills.

NOTE

As of April 2019, only skills published in the US Alexa Skill Store can offer in-skill purchases. That said, in-skill purchase capabilities will soon be rolled out to additional countries.

# Product Models

There are three different types of products that you can offer in your skills.

# 1. Entitlements (one-time purchase)

Entitlements (priced at $0.99 - $99.99) can persistently unlock in-skill features/content.

Use case examples:

  • premium question packs in a trivia game
  • additional content for a choose-your-own-adventure story skill

# 2. Subscriptions (recurring purchase)

Subscriptions (priced at $0.99 - $99.99) can unlock in-skill features/content for a limited period of time. The subscription period can be monthly or yearly, and users will be charged the subscription price on a recurring basis until they cancel their subscription. It is also possible to offer a free trial period for your subscription (recommended) of up to 31 days.

Use case examples:

  • access to a radio broadcast skill
  • podcast skill with regularly updated episodes

# 3. Consumables

Consumables (priced at $0.99 - $9.99) can unlock in-skill items that are depleted upon usage.

Use case examples:

  • extra lives in a survival adventure skill
  • hints in a puzzle skill
  • in-skill currency for a farming skill

# ISP in Litexa

Litexa facilitates adding In-Skill Purchasing logic to your skills. Below, we'll take you through the process of using in-skill products in 10 steps from creating the product(s), to managing your earnings in the released skill.

# Step 1: Create in-skill product(s)

First, you'll need to create any required in-skill products. To do so, make sure you've litexa deployed your skill at least once, and then proceed as follows:

  1. Head to your ASK Developer Console.
  2. Select your skill from 'Alexa Skills'.
  3. Select 'IN-SKILL PRODUCTS'.
  4. Select 'Create in-skill product'.
  5. Follow the instructions, and fill out all required fields (marked with *). Feel free to use placeholders (but remember to replace them by editing the product, later).
  6. Upon completing the in-skill product, you will be prompted to link it to your skill: Confirm with 'Link to skill'.

Repeat the above steps 4-6 for any products you'd like to create for your skill.

# Step 2: Pull in-skill product(s)

You should pull the JSON definitions of your skill's in-skill products, so that any product references can be properly tested by Litexa. To do so, simply run the following command from your Litexa project's root directory.

litexa pull isp

This will create an isp directory in your project root directory, with a subdirectory for the deployment stage you specify (default: development). A JSON file will then be created within, for every in-skill product associated with the specified stage of your skill.

For example, assuming you've linked a product with the reference name "MyPremiumProduct" to your skill in the development stage, you would see the following file structure:

project_dir
└── isp
    └── development
        └── MyPremiumProduct.json
└── litexa

isp pulling overrides local products

Any local product files will be replaced by remote products during pull isp.

If you prefer modifying your in-skill products locally via their JSON, you can do so and push these changes with the following command:

litexa push isp

isp pushing overrides remote products

Any remote products will be replaced by local products during push isp.

# Step 3: Configure your skill for ISP

In your skill configuration file (skill.*), set allowsPurchases to true:

 privacyAndCompliance: {
  allowsPurchases: true
  // ...
 }

# Step 4: Support purchasing

You must handle a buy intent, whether or not the user specifies a product name.

  1. Example of handling a request for general product information:
when "what can I buy"
  or "what can I shop for"
  or "tell me what I can buy"
  or "buy"
  or "shop"
  say "You can purchase the following product: MyPremiumProduct. If you're interested,
    say: Alexa, buy MyPremiumProduct."

Don't overwhelm the user with products

If you have multiple products, you should split up your product information. For instance:

when "what can I buy"
  say "You can buy A, B, or C. Or say, next, to hear more options."
when AMAZON.NextIntent
  say "You can also buy D, E, or F."

Also, don't mention products already owned by the user, by using inSkillProductBought.

  1. Example of handling a request for a specific product:
when "buy MyPremiumProduct"
  or "purchase MyPremiumProduct"
  or "give me MyPremiumProduct"

  if inSkillProductBought(context, "MyPremiumProduct")
    say "It looks like you've already bought MyPremiumProduct!"
  else
    buyInSkillProduct "MyPremiumProduct"

buyInSkillProduct

The above buyInSkillProduct statement automatically generates a purchase directive for the product indicated by its reference name. Doing so will initiate a purchase flow outside of your skill (temporarily exiting it), during which the purchasePromptDescription and price for the indicated product are shared with the user, allowing them to purchase the product.

If necessary, you should take note of your user's progress in the skill before initiating a purchase, so you can gracefully resume the skill upon relaunch. For example, if you want to directly pick up from the state the user was in, you could save that state's name to a database variable and then add the necessary redirection logic to your launch state.

An alternative to using buyInSkillProduct is the upsellInSkillProduct statement. The main difference between the two is that upsellInSkillProduct will first prompt the user with a specified upsell message, which should be formulated as a Yes/No question, as seen below:

upsellInSkillProduct "MyPremiumProduct"
  message: "A premium product is available. Would you like to learn more?"

If the user answers "Yes", the flow would proceed to present the same product prompt/price as buyInSkillProduct. If the user answers "No", the upsell flow would silently abort and relaunch the skill.

# Step 5: Support refund/cancellation

Similarly to supporting purchase intents, you must also support cancellation/refund requests. For example:

# handle the user specifying no product name
when "cancel purchase"
  or "stop purchase"
  or "refund purchase"
  # Ideally remind user of what they've purchased.
  say "Please specify which product you'd like to cancel."

when "refund MyPremiumProduct"
  or "I want to return MyPremiumProduct"
  or "I want a refund for MyPremiumProduct"

  if inSkillProductBought(context, "MyPremiumProduct")
    cancelInSkillProduct "MyPremiumProduct"
  else
    say "It doesn't look like you currently own MyPremiumProduct."

cancelInSkillProduct

Similarly to the above buyInSkillProduct statement, the cancelInSkillProduct statement will automatically initiate a cancellation directive for the indicated product, which will proceed to launch a purchase cancellation flow outside of your skill.

Again, you should first store your user's progress (if necessary), so you can gracefully resume your skill when it's automatically relaunched.

# Step 6: Handle purchase result

As stated above, buying/canceling an in-skill product will temporarily exit your skill. Once automatically relaunched, your skill will receive a Connections.Response event with the "purchaseResult". To see the structure of the response and more information on its fields, refer to Resuming your skill after the purchase flow

The purchaseResult can be one of four values:

  1. ACCEPTED
  2. DECLINED
  3. ALREADY_PURCHASED
  4. ERROR

To listen for and handle the purchaseResult, use the following code in a global state intent handler:

global
  when Connections.Response "Buy"    # handles return from buyInSkillProduct
    switch $purchaseResult
      == "ACCEPTED" then
        say "You now own {$newProduct.name}!"
      == "DECLINED" then
        # ...
      == "ALREADY_PURCHASED"  then
        # ...
      == "ERROR" then
        # ...

  when Connections.Response "Upsell" # handles return from upsellInSkillProduct
    switch $purchaseResult
      == "ACCEPTED" then
        # ...

  when Connections.Response "Cancel" # handles return from cancelInSkillProduct
    switch $purchaseResult
      == "ACCEPTED" then
        # ...

$purchaseResult, $newProduct

As seen in the above example, using a when Connections.Response "Buy"|"Cancel"|"Upsell" listener will automatically create two shorthand $ variables with the purchase result and the relevant product! These can then be handled in whichever way is required. $newProduct will have the following structure:

{

  "productId": "amzn1.adg.product.myProductsProductId",
  "referenceName": "myProductsReferenceName",
  "type": "ENTITLEMENT",
  "name": "My Product Name",
  "summary": "My product's summary.",
  "entitled": "NOT_ENTITLED",
  "entitlementReason": "NOT_PURCHASED",
  "purchasable": "PURCHASABLE",
  "activeEntitlementCount": 0,
  "purchaseMode": "TEST"
}

Further details on this product summary can be found in the ASK InSkillProduct documentation.

# Step 7: Handle bought products

Now, all that remains for you to add in your skill is logic to account for products owned by the user. This is done with the inSkillProductBought function:

startGame
  if inSkillProductBought(context, "MyPremiumProduct")
    say "Would you like to play the standard or premium edition?"
    # ...
  else
    say "Would you like to play the free standard edition, or
      are you interested in purchasing the premium edition?"
    # ...

# Step 8: Testing ISP

It is possible to test purchasing during skill development, without accruing any purchase charges. For instructions on how to do so, and on how to reset existing entitlements through the ASK Developer Console, please refer to the ISP Test Guide.

Litexa reset shortcut

Resetting all test purchases for a skill in development can also be achieved with the following CLI command:

litexa reset isp

# Step 9: Certifying your ISP skill

To get your skill with ISP certified, a couple additional steps are required:

# Step 10: ISP Earnings/Metrics

Once your skill is live, purchase metrics can be found and viewed here:

# ISP Best Practices

In-skill products should enhance the experience of your skill, but should not be required. Every skill should provide a free experience that is self-sufficient and can engage customers. The free experience should drive interest in any premium content, without foisting it on users who aren't interested in purchasing said content.

For detailed practices, we encourage you to review this documentation of how to Design a Good Customer Experience for In-Skill Purchasing

# Relevant Resources