Have you ever ordered candy through your voice-controlled assistant?
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Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Candy is a staple of checkout aisle shelves for a reason: Unless you’re an elementary school student or it’s the week before Halloween, you likely didn’t head to the supermarket specifically to buy sweets. (Not that we’re blaming you if you did!) Candy is often an impulse buy—which is why chocolate bars are usually stocked at eye level. But now, chocoholics beware: Amazon is finding ways to bring the impulse buy into our homes… and apparently it’s working.

According to recent data from One Click Retail, Amazon has seen candy and snack sales grow 42 percent year-over-year as of the end of August. Sales for 2017 are already at $215 million compared to $240 million for all of 2016. Though Nathan Rigby, VP Sales and Marketing at One Click Retail and author of the report, points out that these sales are still extremely small compared to the $49 billion in sweets and snacks sold in the US each year, what’s interesting is the methods Amazon has been using to boost their sales.

The most obvious example of bringing impulse buying into the home is the advent of digital assistants like Alexa and smart speakers like the Echo. “Amazon Echo owners can now shout out the candy or treat they're craving at any given time and the very next moment Alexa will have the order placed for them,” states Rigby. “As Alexa grows in popularity, voice-activated purchases of snack foods and other consumables have the potential for major growth.”

Granted, ordering through your Echo still requires at least some level of forethought. But for those who don’t mind reveling in their impulses, earlier this year, Amazon also quietly launched “Prime Surprise Sweets.” For those unfamiliar with this insidious little service, it’s a physical Amazon Dash button you can place wherever you like that, with just one click, will automatically order an $18 box of unidentified artisanal sweets and deliver it to your door within two days. Though it may sound a bit gimmicky, it’s apparently a success. “So far, the program has already brought in about $1.6M in sales and is rapidly growing: the button only sold about $65,000 in January but grew to five times that size by July,” writes Rigby. A little back-of-the-napkin math means that those buttons were likely clicked around 18,000 times in July. Now that’s surprising.