Is Amazon Price Check, the retail killer app for mobile?


Amazon Price Check is the killer app for retail business according to some analysts in the USA. Not yet available in the UK, using the Amazon app, prospective buyers can scan it, snap it, say it or just type in the product information and the app will scan the Amazon database to generate a price comparison within seconds.

Show-rooming* is to be added to the retail multi channel vocabulary along with surf and click, surf and turf and surf and sweep. *Show rooming a process in which buyers visit retail sites to “see it touch it feel it”, then obtain the ultimate price comparison before “one click will guarantee delivery within a few hours or days”.

We are forecasting a greater use of mobile in the social media mix especially in the context of mobile, location and payment but as Amazon explains, Amazon Price Check could be the ultimate retail killer app, even for category killer retailers.

Amazon Price Check, the Category Killer, Killer

“Ever wondered if you were getting the best price on a product when you were out shopping? With Price Check by Amazon, you can use your iPhone to compare prices instantly with Amazon while on-the-go. Price Check enables you to search for Amazon products quickly using barcode, picture, voice, and text search, and access product descriptions and customer reviews to guide you in making informed purchase decisions. To make in-store price comparison even better, we’re introducing a new price sharing feature that helps ensure our prices remain competitive for our customers”. [This sounds like a price match service is on the way].

“When you find a low price while using the app, simply log into your Amazon account to complete a secure purchase. All prices are in U.S. dollars, and all products are from the U.S. Amazon store. Activate immediate purchase using 1-Click ordering. 

Scan it, snap it, say it, type it.”
Search for products using four easy methods: 
Scan a barcode: Amazon’s barcode scanner will match your item and provide Amazon and merchant product pricing instantly. 
Snap a picture: This app uses Amazon’s photo matching algorithm to instantly match your picture to books, DVDs, CDs, video games, and more. 
Say the product name: Speak your search queries and use voice search to return accurate product matches and Amazon’s pricing. 
Type your search: Type the product name to retrieve instant matches.

What does this mean for traditional retailing?
Some retailers are already struggling to rationalise a multi channel pricing policy. Should the same price be available on the web site as in the retail store? How to price in delivery costs, on line or in store? Now with the threat of Amazon instant price check, even category killers will be subject to aggressive price comparison.

Uniform multi channel pricing is inevitable. Competing with Amazon will be a pre requisite. The quest for own label and “Special channel” bar codes will accelerate  but this will make life for the independents even more difficult. The upshot for all will place greater pressure on margins.

The highs streets are under pressure, the retail parks are confronting the challenge of multi channel involving smaller networks and retail ergonomics. The Amazon app will be more than a price check, it will be a price leveller, bulldozing margins in the process. Currently on trial in the USA, it is coming to a show room near you soon. Buy whilst show rooms last!

About the Author

  • Dr John Ashcroft

    John Ashcroft is a visiting professor at Manchester University and Executive in residence at Manchester Business School, specializing in Economics Corporate Strategy and Social Media. Author of the Saturday Economist, The Apple Case Study and The Sunday Times and Croissants John is Chief Executive of pro.manchester, a Director of Marketing Manchester, a member of the GM Chamber of Commerce Council and the AGMA Business Leadership Council.


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