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Is Amazon’s PriceCheck App A Retailer’s Opportunity?

The recent flap over Amazon’s PriceCheck app has caused a bit of a stir on TWICE’s talkback page, with readers calling the practice everything from unethical to arrogant.

Amazon’s deal offered customers a discount if they went to a brick-and-mortar retailer and used Amazon’s PriceCheck app to check out a product in the store, but bought it from Amazon. Amazon was willing to give them a 5 percent discount up to $5 if they did so. This was a one-day-only deal.

I just don’t see what all the fuss is about.

Amazon was literally willing to pay people go to into your store. Once they are inside, it’s up to the store’s staff to turn them into a customer.

While my main job has always been as a journalist, I do have some small-store retail experience, having been a partner in a motorcycle sales and repair business. I have to say if Harley Davidson decided to send customers into my store to check things out, our staff would have made sure they did not leave and go back to Harley. I always felt getting the body into the store was 80 percent of the battle; the rest was up to us.

To some extent, this situation is different – the people working in the store I was involved in could wheel and deal on the spot to grab a customer. In this case, employees have to spot the people looking at their smartphone while shopping and see if they can’t get them to buy something right then and there.

I can even envision turning the tables on Amazon by having the customer use the online reviews to decide what to buy in the store and then having the staffer say they can walk out with it now.

A person who has bothered to travel to a store already has time invested in this project, obviously does not mind shopping in person, and is out looking to spend money. If they really wanted to shop online, they could have stayed home. The $5 they could possibly have saved by using PriceCheck was already saved in gasoline.

So perhaps in a backhanded fashion, Amazon was doing retailers a favor.