Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Amazon and Cut Throat Prices

I'm usually a big fan of technology. I love being able to do as much as I can online or with techie things. But this past weekend (I think it was this past weekend), Amazon concocted a new approach to stabbing brick and mortar retail in the back--including book stores. If people went in to stores and used its new price matching app, then Amazon would give them up to $5 off on the items they scanned. (In the price matching app, you scan the barcode of an item with your smart phone. Amazon brings up the info for it on Amazon, so you can compare prices and then order it from Amazon right there.)

This strikes me as unfair, and over the top. Amazon has cheaper prices than bookstores. That's almost always a given these days. Why? Because Amazon can afford to. They're able to slash prices on some items (books), because they can make back the money on all the other stuff people buy through them. And I think everyone kind of gets that. If you want to save money--and money is all that's important to you, not local business or anything--then you shop Amazon.

But this latest stunt? That just seems to be Amazon trying to take a lead pipe to local  brick and mortar stores' collective kneecap. It would be like Walmart hiring someone to go around after you and tell you how much money you could be saving if you were shopping at Walmart.

What's worse is that Amazon is basically using every other store's inventory as a sort of Amazon Floorspace. The big weakness Amazon has always had is that some people prefer to see things before they buy them. They want to handle the thing. Kick the tires. Look under the hood, so to speak. And Amazon hasn't been able to match that. It's the great equalizer.

But now, you can go to the store, see the thing hands on, then order it on Amazon and have it delivered to your house in two days, for free.


Sooner or later, this will all come back to bite the consumer in the proverbial rear end. If Amazon's allowed to drive all other stores out of business, then something tells me that won't be a good thing for the consumer.

Time will tell, but sometimes, just because you *can* do something with technology, doesn't mean you should . . .

No comments:

Post a Comment