Alexa, how many oranges do I have?

How nice it would be if Amazon Alexa could prompt the stock of grocery, medicine, vegetables, fruits, baby care or personal care products, from a house hold?  How good if we update our stock by making verbal statements using Alexa? How good it would be to get rid of confusing excel sheets in maintaining home inventory? How good it would be to make Alexa to send the shopping list in any category as an SMS to your number? How good it would be to check the grocery stock at home by sitting in our living room?

Watch this short demo:


To participate in #amazonalexalifehackschallenge,  recently I developed a useful Alexa skill to maintain, monitor and track the home inventory,  programmed to interact with the user and grow the inventory of the household items.

At many households, family members tend to forget what they require to buy while going shopping for their grocery, medicine, baby care, fruits, vegetables or personal care items. Only after returning home from the store, they remember and feel irritated for missing out on a few essential items.

This occurs as people lose track of the usage of day-to-day items to build their shopping list, which leads to lack of availability of important items at home, when needed – further leading to some inconvenience, anger or uncomfortable issues among the family members.


We were inspired by such occurrences (in our own household too!) wherein poor inventory checks led to deficits or overstocking of day-to-day items. Hence, we wanted to create an efficient skill to maintain the home inventory in a fun way. This skill is designed in such a way that the members at home can maintain and monitor the inventory at their own convenience, at every instance of usage of the item.

This skill allows the user to refresh an item, use an item, get the shopping list by a specified category, check the number of items available, as well message the shopping list to the  user specified number. This skill, provides a convenient way to update a stock position at home whenever a person uses an item.

Hence, this skill can be considered as a centralized management of the home inventory. It saves time to check on each item available at home. It is more convenient for people to maintain their stock in a separate category such as medicine, baby care, fruits, vegetables, grocery etc.

Built using:

We built it using Python 2.7 (AWS Lambda environment), AWS DynamoDB (AWS Lambda environment), integrated with Way2Sms for messaging the shopping list to a user.

Challenges met with:

Setting up and designing the potential item names, categories, start of words of a phrase, end words for a phrase which is to be recognized by the Skill’s various intents.

Accomplishments that we’re proud of:

This is very useful skill to maintain, monitor and refresh items in different categories.The skill can grow the inventory by user’s inputs and can be maintained over a period of time. It can clear the items and can be refreshed with new items. We believe this skill will be of great use by the users at home in a day to day basis and to maintain and monitor their essential products and keep them available at home.  Integration with Way2Sms allows the skill to send message to the mobile number specified by the user and with the consent of the user.

What we learned

If Alexa misses to recognize the accent of the user, the skill might behave differently. The unknown phrases are handled in such a way, the skill will speak out to the user to try again.

What’s next for Home Stock

Integrate the shopping list with external applications to order online through superstores such as grocery , pharmacy, Amazon Pantry by sending the shopping list with the number of items required.

Sample statements:

Step 1: Enable Home Stock
Step 2: Say, :Alexa, Open Home Stock
Step 3: Say :Alexa I refreshed 12 oranges in fruits category
Step 4: Say :Alexa I used 5 oranges

Step 5 : Say: Alexa send my shopping list in grocery to my number XXXXXXXXXX
Step 6: Say :Alexa I added 6 oranges
Step 7: Say :Alexa Do I have any oranges?
Step 8: Say: What is my shopping list in fruits

Step 9: Say, Check my current stock in fruits
Step 10: Say: Alexa I removed oranges
Step 11: Say: Alexa I refreshed 15 oranges in fruits category
Step 12: Say: Alexa how many oranges do I have?
Step 13 Say: Alexa  stop

The skill allows to completely wipe out their inventory and start from the beginning by stating “Alexa, clear all items”. The users permission will be asked before clearing all the items and based on the response, the data will be cleared for that particular user.

Watch a demo of this skill :