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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Amazon app is good for shoppers, but really pisses off competitors

The Price Check by Amazon app allows users to comparison shop easily. Even better, on December 10th, people who use the app while shopping in physical retail stores will get an additional 5% discount (up to $5) off Amazon’s price on up to three qualifying products in eligible categories, including electronics, toys, music, sporting goods and DVDs.

“The ability to check prices on your mobile phone when you’re in a physical retail store is changing the way people shop,” said Sam Hall, director of Amazon Mobile. “Price transparency means that you can save money on the products you want and that’s a great thing for customers. Price Check in-store deals are another incentive to shop smart this holiday season.”

The Price Check by Amazon app is available for iPhone and Android and can be downloaded for free from the Amazon Appstore, Android Market and App Store for iPhone. Price Check app users can “price check” using four input methods:
  1. Scan a barcode: Amazon's barcode scanner will match an item and provide pricing from Amazon.com and other online merchants in seconds. One exclusive feature to the Android version of Price Check is the ability to scan in either portrait or landscape mode, making it faster and easier to find products.
  2. Snap a picture: Snap a photo and instantly match the picture to books, DVDs, CDs, video games and more.
  3. Say the product name: Speak the name of a product to return accurate product matches and pricing from Amazon.com and its other online merchants.
  4. Type your search: Type the product name to instantly find products and prices.
In order to participate in the discount (www.amazon.com/instoredeals), Price Check app users will need the latest version of the Price Check app on their iPhone or Android mobile phone. When a customer enables the geo-location feature on Price Check, they will see an additional 5% discount (up to $5) off Amazon’s price for qualifying products they price check and buy from Amazon on Saturday, December 10. They can then choose to share the in-store price with Amazon.
Amazon’s mobile shopping applications include Amazon Deals for iPhone, Price Check by Amazon for iPhone and Android, Amazon Student for iPhone, Amazon Windowshop for iPad and the Amazon Mobile App for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7 and Android-based devices. Customers can learn more by visiting www.amazon.com/amazonmobile.
 
Book stores and other retailers such as BestBuy have complained that they have become mere "showrooms for Amazon," but this new move pisses them off even more.
 
Members of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) include nine of the top ten U.S. retailers. Katherine Lugar, RILA executive vice president of public affairs, said, "Retailers compete on price 365 days a year, and at no time is that competition hotter than during the make-or-break holiday shopping season. However, by continuing to evade collecting state sales taxes, Amazon's exploitation of a pre-Internet tax loophole is resulting in a 6-10 percent perceived price advantage over their competitors on Main Street." 
"Amazon's aggressive promotion of its Price Check App shows the lengths they are willing to go to exploit this tax loophole, and is a stark reminder of why Congress needs to act to protect retailers on Main Street. A failure to act is an implicit endorsement of a subsidy of Amazon, a subsidy that distorts the free market and puts jobs on Main Street at risk," she said

RILA supports bipartisan legislation introduced in the House and in the Senate that would level the playing field and force all retailers to compete under the same rules. "Main Street retailers have been forced to compete on an uneven playing field for too long. Retailers cannot afford another holiday season where they are forced to compete on an uneven playing field," added Lugar.

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