How’s this for a brazen move to steal business away from brick-and-mortar stores? Under normal circumstances, a shopper using Amazon’s Price Check app in a physical store can instantaneously check to see if Amazon sells the same merchandise for a better price. This Saturday, however, when a consumer uses the app, Amazon will show its price, and then lower it by 5%.
Amazon’s app is available for the iPhone and Android smartphones at no cost to the user—it’s free, of course, because Amazon wants as many consumers as possible to use it. Consumers can do a Price Check in a brick-and-mortar store by scanning an item’s bar code or typing in a search query, or even by snapping a photo or saying the product name. It works the same as many other price-checking apps, though the alternatives are arguably superior because rather than checking the prices of an individual retailer (Amazon), some are capable of comparison shopping at multiple merchants at the same time.
This weekend, brick-and-mortar retailers have extra reason to hate Amazon’s Price Check app. Amazon says that on Saturday, December 10, when a consumer uses the app in a store, Amazon will knock 5% off its price of up to three qualifying products—for a maximum discount of $5 apiece, or $15 total.
What’s a “qualifying product”? Well, the item has to be an exact match—what’s in the store must be identical to what Amazon is selling. Among the merchandise that’s fair game are a trio of popular gift items: electronics, DVDs, and toys.
Unsurprisingly, traditional retailers are none to happy about Amazon’s latest gambit to steal away sales. Soon after Amazon announced its Saturday special, a press release was circulated stating:
The Retail Industry Leaders Assn. said the app unfairly uses bricks-and-mortar stores as “showrooms to then purchase merchandise online from inside the store.”
“Central to this tactic is Amazon’s continued practice of using a pre-Internet loophole to avoid state sales tax collection, a move that gives them an unfair competitive advantage over Main Street retailers,” the group said.
Amazon has actually come out in favor of a bill that’d force online shoppers to pay sales tax. For the time being, though, it’s commonplace for shoppers to avoid sales tax by making purchases online.
This Saturday, by using Amazon’s app, shoppers can not only sidestep sales tax, they can save a little extra as well.