By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New York – Dealers and their buying group representatives are giving a big thumbs-down on a possible Kindle-based checkout system reportedly developed by Amazon.com.
According to a report this week by the Wall Street Journal, the e-tailer may begin offering the checkout system, and other services like website development and data analysis, to brick-and-mortar retailers as early as this summer.
But Amazon’s reception may be frosty, based on a survey of merchants who expressed grave concerns about sharing invaluable customer data, and sensitive product and pricing information, with a major competitor.
“The main concern I would have would be the data that Amazon could get about our customers, our products, our pricing and our promotions,” said Bill Trawick, president and executive director of the NATM Buying Corp., a buying group for regional CE and appliance chains. “I can’t see why [dealers] would need this support.”
Daniel Pidgeon, chairman of Starpower Home Entertainment Systems, the Dallas-based specialty dealer and custom integrator, agreed. “Sharing our data with a competitor, that could take a follow-up sale. Process payments and let them have all the information on our customers? Why would we want to do that?”
Frank Sandtner, member services VP for the Nationwide Marketing Group, described the prospect of an Amazon checkout system as “scary for an independent retailer.”
“Amazon is a competitor [and] could request to view or copy your data, which is a big risk,” he told TWICE.
Sandtner noted that Nationwide, which serves more than 3,500 independent dealers, is developing its own point-of-sale (POS) system for members that will be tailored to the majap, CE and home-furnishings markets. The pilot program will be discussed with members at the group’s spring meeting next month.
“What Amazon is going to realize is that the POS market is very fragmented, and to do it right they are going to have to spend plenty of time and resources to do it. In effect, we are ahead of Amazon for our members on this,” he said.
The Wall Street Journal report was based on anonymous sources who said Amazon’s retail services plans are fluid, and could be delayed, altered or canceled.
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