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Hey Alexa, Ask Edmunds: Building a Conversational Commerce Interface for Car Buyers

In today’s competitive digital car-buying landscape, consumers expect to be able to shop, ask questions and get responses anytime, even outside of regular dealership hours

With Amazon’s line of Echo devices in the homes of tens of millions of consumers, car shoppers no longer need to type a message or make a phone call to make an inquiry.

Edmunds was looking for an innovative way to engage potential car buyers, increase sales and bolster brand recognition via Echo devices, so it partnered with EPAM to create a conversational commerce interface (CCI), powered by artificial intelligence, that could seamlessly respond to a multitude of message types, including customer questions from sources ranging from Echo devices to Facebook Messenger. 

Key Challenges

In order to make its world-class content and services ecosystem available to Amazon Echo and Facebook Messenger users, Edmunds needed a solution capable of automatically responding to both text and speech questions in real-time. To bring the solution to life, the approach consisted of these three steps:

  1. Design a stream processing flow that takes messages from a source such as Facebook Messenger, Amazon Echo, etc.
  2. Implement an Apache Spark Streaming prototype to ingest messaging data from selected sources
  3. Develop an Alexa assistant prototype for implementation with AWS 

Solution Highlights

The results

Leveraging the popularity of Amazon Echo devices, EPAM helped introduce Edmunds’ world-class content and services to a wider audience of car buyers and researchers. Now users can simply say “Hey Alexa, Ask Edmunds…” with any question they might have, and the device will respond with expertly curated content from Edmunds, including car-leasing details based on the customer’s budget, location and preferences. 

Technologies used

  • Operating system: Linux
  • Application and web server: Tomcat
  • Programming languages: Java, SQL
  • Database management system: DynamoDB
  • Technologies/Frameworks: Spark Streaming, Spring, Amazon Web Services (EBS, EMR, Kinesis, S3), Amazon Alexa, Amazon Echo, Machine Learning (, Messengers (Facebook, Slack)


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