Saturday, December 10, 2011

Amazon Takes Social Shopping to a New Level

If you use Amazon’s “Price Check” mobile app on Saturday Dec. 10, 2011 to compare the price of an item in a brick-and-mortar store with what you can get it for at Amazon’s website, Amazon will give you a five percent break, up to $5,  if you buy that item from 

What is interesting is that this is a new application of social shopping, where users contribute feedback, but where the social exchange is that users compare prices, let Amazon know, and then get value the form of discounts. In many other forms of social shopping, people post public reviews and information. 

In this case, Amazon essentially is having shoppers act as "mystery shoppers" to check out and report retail pricing at competitive outlets. Retailers do this all the time.

What is different here is the social angle, the value exchange and yet another use of mobile apps in mobile commerce.

Amazon is giving comparison shoppers a quick-and-easy way to earn up to $15 in discounts, but the promotion is making brick and mortar retailers are unhappy, of course.

The Price Check app is free and works on the iPhone and Android smartphones. To use it, you scan a product's bar code, take its picture or say or type its name. The app then gives you the Amazon price.

If you decide you'd rather buy the product from Amazon, you can put it in Amazon's online shopping cart where you'll get a discount if you complete the purchase within 24 hours.

The discount can be used on three items for a maximum of $5 off each. The deal good on electronics, toys, sports, music and DVDs sold directly by Amazon, not its third party suppliers. .

A product you're price checking also has to be an exact match to what Amazon is selling. Some might note that the promotion, though possibly enabling a shift of some sales to, has other value. It will feed Amazon current pricing on a wide range of products being offered by brick-and-mortar retailers all over the United States.

In fact, Amazon says on its website that the discount is “an introduction to sharing in-store advertised prices with us.”

In some cases, Amazon also will get location information as well. Qualifying products for the promotional period will have a yellow “Get deal” button next to the Amazon offer price. Amazon price check promo Dec. 10, 2011

Though it is understandable that brick and mortar retailers worry about sales volume shifting on one shopping day, they also are worried that Amazon will have a highly-efficient “mystery shopper” campaign running on Dec. 10, 2011 that no brick and mortar retailer can afford to support.

Also, some will argue, shoppers already are routinely comparing prices using their smart phones while shopping. This is just a fact of life these days, and illustrates one more way mobile commerce is being a material factor in the shopping process.

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