A few weeks ago, Amazon created a revolutionary app called the Price Check App (iOS and Android). Once downloaded, consumers can use this app to scan items in a brick and mortar store, which Amazon will then beat price-wise.
Essentially, the app allows Amazon to gain information about the prices of products in brick and mortar stores, while luring consumers away from these stores by offering better prices online. Since Amazon doesn’t have an actual store where consumers can go to touch and feel items, the Price Check App serves two direct purposes (lower prices and providing consumers with a way to see a feel an item).
As you can imagine, many brick and mortar retailers are outraged by Amazon’s new app. While there’s nothing that small store owners can do to stop consumers from using the app, there’s no doubt that consumers who are looking to save some money this year will skip stores and buy items online. This app isn’t illegal by any means, but retailers are still up in arms about the app. Some are even going so far as to (insert eye-roll here) pass out “Occupy Amazon” buttons.
Many brick and mortar retailers feel like Amazon isn’t competing fairly. The online store already offers prices that are way below what regular retailers can offer (simply because Amazon doesn’t have as much cost). Now, Amazon is beating the prices that retailers are offering by using consumers to scout prices for the company.
Every time a consumer scans an item in-store, Amazon offers that item at a lower price. Sure, this is pure capitalism, but store owners and managers across the states feel slighted.
Is it fair of these small store owners to boycott Amazon or has Amazon simply come up with an innovative marketing app that nobody else has thought of yet?
Seemingly, brick and mortar retailers need to get with the app times and start creating apps that speak to consumers as well as the new Amazon app does. Were that to happen, retailers could come up with ways to stop consumers from buying from Amazon – I’m not sure that handing out “occupy” buttons is the way to go here though.
Amazon claims that the company has done nothing wrong by creating the scanning app. Many consumers already scan in-store items in order to find these items cheaper elsewhere. In fact, there are many apps that already comparison shop for consumers. Short of banning smartphones from stores, there’s really no way for store owners to stop consumers from scanning items.
Reportedly, some owners have resorted to mocking consumers who use smartphones, but I’m going to warn any store owners against taking this kind of action. I’m not sure, but I’m guessing that insulting customers isn’t the best way to go.
Amazon hasn’t done anything wrong here (in this author’s opinion), though it is interesting to see how much store owners are reacting to this app. What do you think? Has Amazon crossed a line?