Online Retailer Ups the Stakes for Local Shops (sort of)

Last week, Amazon announced that it was introducing version 1.2.1 of their Price Check mobile app. The principle is simple. With this app, Amazon no longer

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Last week, Amazon announced that it was introducing version 1.2.1 of their Price Check mobile app. The principle is simple, find out if you’re getting the best price while you’re out shopping. Simply scan the bar-code for the product in question, or enter the product in the search box and it will tell you what the product cost on Amazon is. The twist is, you also share with Amazon the price you’re looking at in the local store to “…ensure our [Amazon’s] prices remain competitive for our customers.

To encourage your participation, Amazon will pay you up to $5 off your purchase up to 3 times. This is both a brilliant pricing strategy by Amazon, and a terrifying reality for local shops and major retailers alike. And the outrage flowing Amazon’s way is truly impressive.

According to Josh Constine in his article Use PriceCheck and Screw Local Retailers published on TechCrunch,

“The app is designed to get you to visit local shops, try out a product, submit valuable pricing data to Amazon, leave without buying anything, and make your purchase on Amazon instead.”

Constine continues:

“It also promotes show-rooming where users get the benefit of checking out a product in person, but then neglect the shops that pay overhead to offer that service.”

The number of online bloggers and news companies weighing on the topic is staggering, some even calling to “Occupy Amazon”:

As if that wasn’t enough, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports that,

“U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). Snowe is angered over the Amazon app, calling it “an attack on Main Street businesses that employ workers in our communities.””

Look, it’s true that this app could be trouble for local shops, but the reality is that most local shops can’t be and don’t try to be the low-price-leader. The even better news here is that while there will some individuals who take advantage of the local store by examining the product in their store and then buying it Amazon, the reality is these people were already participating in this behavior. What’s more, they don’t represent the majority of shoppers in a local business. The reality of living in a smart-phone society is that we all have product pricing at our finger tips 24 hours a day. This app really isn’t anything new, but it does make it easier to comparison shop. 

With this app, Amazon no longer has to spend quite so much time, money, and energy researching what their competitors are pricing products at — but from the local shop and major retailer’s position, they either have to make the conscious decision to NOT be the low-price-leader or to find another way to differentiate themselves. And if there are any local retailers still operating under the delusion that they can be the low-cost provider, it’s past time to start thinking about a very different business strategy. The truth of the matter is, being the low-cost provider went out the window when Walmart came to town, and when Amazon first hit the internet.

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Tisha Oehmen

Tisha Oehmen is a professional brand strategist and a leader in the branding field. She was recently named a member of the Global Guru’s Top 30 Brand Gurus. She is also the co-founder of Oregon-based Paradux Media Group and the best-selling author of the book, Finding Brand: The Brand Book Tutorial.

Possessing expertise in both front- and back-office operations, Tisha conceptualizes, develops, and implements initiatives to foster brand effectiveness like no other. With over 15 years of experience in branding and marketing, Tisha has successfully led large financial institutions and health care companies down the path of renaming their business.

Where Tisha really shines is in the work that isn’t done. Sometimes a name change for a business isn’t in their best interest and after meeting with Tisha, they are able to find the true value and equity that has always been in their brand. Tisha has a special knack of being able to communicate the value so that the CEO/Business owner can see its luster and then with a little polishing, make it shine company wide.

Tisha is best known for developing long lasting branding campaigns that speak to the heart of the business, the brand, and the community. True brand, no matter how big or small, has longevity. Creating branding campaigns that have longevity, that have a laser-like focus, is where Tisha thrives.

Tisha received her M.B.A. from the University of Oregon, from where she also earned a B.A. in Political Science. She enjoyed a distinguished academic career punctuated by enthusiastic and successful participation in competitive speaking events, and holds numerous awards for her skill in public speaking. Tisha is widely recognized for her ability to capture an audience’s attention with her straightforward and engaging speaking style.

When not working, she enjoys golfing, baking, reading, and hiking with her partner, Mike, and their two dogs, Chloe and Jackson. She’s also an active member of Rotary International, the Chamber of Commerce, and is a very proud supporter of the Oregon Ducks. Tisha lives in Eagle Point, Oregon.

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