Today only, Amazon has got a pretty good deal lined up. Use the PriceCheck mobile app and get 5% off your purchase, up to $5 at a time, as many as 3 times. Amazon wants you to start using retail stores as more of a catalog showroom. A store where you can look, touch, and sometimes even try an item you are interested in, then order it. In a traditional catalog showroom, you place the order at the store, and then your item is shipped out to you. Some catalog showrooms have actual in-house inventory that they keep in the back. You go to an order desk and then in a few minutes, your item is available for in-store pickup. The Amazon model is a little different. They want you to go to a local retailer, use the PriceCheck app, and order on Amazon, which they hope offers a better deal. Retailers like Best Buy are already used to customers pulling out their mobile phones and scanning in the stores. There are QR codes next to many items they sell. The difference is that the QR code supplies you with more information about the product, and Best Buy hopes this will help make a sale. However, the Amazon PriceCheck app is meant to scan a UPC, or as some people know it, a “barcode”. In order to scan the UPC barcode, you must find a retail box or packaging and scan the code. Yes, just like your local Target, Wal-mart, or grocery store.
If enough people start scanning barcodes with apps like this, then how long will it be until retailers like Best Buy start keeping all their inventory in the back, except for a “floor model”. They already do this with TV’s, computers, and home theater receivers. Have you ever tried to scan a UPC barcode on one of those items? You can’t! There is no retail box to scan! They’re in the “back”! When will they start doing the same thing to mobile phone cases, video games, and DVD’s? But the Amazon App can also use images and voice. How do you combat this? With exclusive in-store model numbers and retail signs that block enough of the item that the app cannot recognize it. Perhaps a bright yellow and black “sale” sign taped across an item? Hey, that would probably work! Retailers like Best Buy want a buffer between you and your Amazon PriceCheck app. In a twist of fate, this could actually revive the catalog showroom. O.K. maybe not. But as far as price comparison apps, this could be the real game changer. Better prices for consumers? You bet. One final thought. The local Best Buy location where KidFriday shops was previously a catalog showroom. What goes around, comes around.