“The Price Check” App Allows Customers To Compare Product’s Pricing with Amazon’s, While They Are Shopping Offline


Posted by on Dec 20th, 2011 and filed under Featured, Shopping, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Why Amazon.com’s New App Is Creating a Stir

Toronto News, December 20, 2011

Amazon Price Check appSmall brick-and-mortar retailers who recently may have taken Amazon.com for a new and powerful friend are likely thinking twice these days.

Last month, the online shopping giant joined these small stores in their long-running battle to force Web-based retailers to collect out-of-state sales taxes – an exemption that enables many online retailers to charge lower prices, the store owners have argued.

Amazon.com resisted collecting state taxes on remote sales for years.

But as WSJ reported this month, it has recently expressed support for federal proposals to bring order to the way online retailers collect state and local taxes.

Its willingness to get behind the proposals—combined with pressure from states for new sources of tax revenue, and bipartisan efforts in the House and Senate—has given the movement more traction this year.

Whatever warm fuzzy feeling that move may have elicited from small, independent store owners was likely short-lived.

On Dec. 10, Amazon promoted a new “Price Check” mobile phone app by offering shoppers a 5% discount—valid only for that one day—on items they found in brick-and-mortar stores, but purchased online through Amazon instead.

The app enables in-store shoppers to scan or snap a photo of a product. It then immediately compares prices with Amazon’s. The app is prompting an outcry from small retailers, who say the site is using their independent stores as its own showroom.

By way of background, many small brick-and-mortar retailers have supported recent legislation requiring online retailers to charge state sales taxes on the grounds that customers often come into their stores to see products, but then turn around to buy the same products tax-free online.

More than 7,000 people have signed a petition against the promotion, according to Change.org. The Change.org campaign was launched by Marcus Books owner Jasmine Johnson of Oakland, Calif.

She told the Wall Street Journal in an interview Thursday that Amazon’s promotion will hurt holiday sales at small businesses at a time when they can least afford it.

“The Price Check by Amazon app is primarily intended for customers who are comparing prices in major retail chain stores,” an Amazon spokesman said Thursday. “The goal of the Price Check app is to make it as easy as possible for customers to access product information, pricing information, and customer reviews, just as they would on the Web, while shopping in a major retail chain store,” he said.

The Price Check app features prices from Amazon and its many third-party sellers, he added.

An Amazon spokesperson told the New York Times this week that the promotion was not aimed at small competitors, but rather big box stores.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R., Maine), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, had recently likened that to “incentivizing consumers to spy on local shops,” calling it “an attack on Main Street businesses.”

She urged Amazon to cancel the promotion.

Small brick-and-mortar retailers who recently may have taken Amazon.com for a new and powerful friend are likely thinking twice these days.

Last month, the online shopping giant joined these small stores in their long-running battle to force Web-based retailers to collect out-of-state sales taxes – an exemption that enables many online retailers to charge lower prices, the store owners have argued.

Getty Images

Amazon.com resisted collecting state taxes on remote sales for years.

But as WSJ reported this month, it has recently expressed support for federal proposals to bring order to the way online retailers collect state and local taxes.

Its willingness to get behind the proposals—combined with pressure from states for new sources of tax revenue, and bipartisan efforts in the House and Senate—has given the movement more traction this year.

Whatever warm fuzzy feeling that move may have elicited from small, independent store owners was likely short-lived.

On Dec. 10, Amazon promoted a new “Price Check” mobile phone app by offering shoppers a 5% discount—valid only for that one day—on items they found in brick-and-mortar stores, but purchased online through Amazon instead.

The app enables in-store shoppers to scan or snap a photo of a product. It then immediately compares prices with Amazon’s.

The app is prompting an outcry from small retailers, who say the site is using their independent stores as its own showroom.

By way of background, many small brick-and-mortar retailers have supported recent legislation requiring online retailers to charge state sales taxes on the grounds that customers often come into their stores to see products, but then turn around to buy the same products tax-free online.

More than 7,000 people have signed a petition against the promotion, according to Change.org. The Change.org campaign was launched by Marcus Books owner Jasmine Johnson of Oakland, Calif.

She told the Wall Street Journal in an interview Thursday that Amazon’s promotion will hurt holiday sales at small businesses at a time when they can least afford it.

“The Price Check by Amazon app is primarily intended for customers who are comparing prices in major retail chain stores,” an Amazon spokesman said Thursday. “The goal of the Price Check app is to make it as easy as possible for customers to access product information, pricing information, and customer reviews, just as they would on the Web, while shopping in a major retail chain store,” he said.

The Price Check app features prices from Amazon and its many third-party sellers, he added.

An Amazon spokesperson told the New York Times this week that the promotion was not aimed at small competitors, but rather big box stores.

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R., Maine), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, had recently likened that to “incentivizing consumers to spy on local shops,” calling it “an attack on Main Street businesses.”

She urged Amazon to cancel the promotion.   

by Angus Loten

 

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