Amazon TextBuyIt

textbuyit1.jpgWhen you are shopping over the web, its very easy to compare prices through multiple browser tabs, but comparison shopping is not so easy to do in a brick & mortar store. Browsing e-commerce sites using most cell phone browsers is a painful experience. Text messaging on the other hand is a very easy task on most cell phones and for younger cell phone users, “texting” is the primary method of communication.

With that as the backdrop, Amazon is once again showing that it “gets it” and in the process, has created a new competitive advantage against traditional retailers. TextBuyIt is an innovative new service which lets people text the name of a product, its description or its UPC or ISBN to 262966 (that’s “Amazon” on the keypad) from anywhere their cellphones work — including from inside physical stores.

If Amazon stocks matching items, the service returns two results at a time. Shoppers can immediately buy one of the first two the selections by texting back the number “1” or “2,” or they can ask for more by texting the letter “M.”

New TextBuyIt customers will be prompted to enter the e-mail address associated with their existing Amazon account plus a shipping zip code. The service then calls them and walks through the checkout process using an automated voice system. Shoppers get confirmation by text message and e-mail.

From there, the customers can check on order status on Amazon’s website.

Why This is Disruptive

Say you’re out shopping at the mall and see some new, expensive thing that you just gotta have. Historically, you have had no way of knowing whether the price is good or not. By allowing you to send a simple short text message to initiate an order, Amazon has just empowered you with comparative price information to make a fact-based decision about the purchase in the physical marketplace and in the process, have inserted themselves into the middle of your purchase process in hopes of steering your dollars in their direction

This is a clear “Make It Easy for Me” differentiator targeted squarely at younger, text-message-oriented consumers. It is also a wake up call for traditional retailers already impacted by the information empowered consumer. Your competitor is now actively competing with you inside your four walls.


[From USAToday]


4 comments so far

  1. Jon Burg on

    Think about where this goes once semicodes/QR codes/shotcodes become pervasive. I’m shopping in Best Buy, I find a flat screen I want, I activate the QR code, get an automated epinions comparison shopping on my mobile, and then click to buy from Amazon. How can retailers compete?

  2. Doug Meacham on

    Jon, Thanks for the comment. You’re exactly right. The technology is going to continue to disrupt the traditional models. Using the iPhone, I can browse to just about anywhere in a full-blown browser just like sitting in my house. Full featured mobile internet devices are already here.

    The internet has not empowered the consumer. It has also made just about everything a commodity. The only way to compete is to find a defensible differentiation. That is not only extremely difficult to do but also requires the company to be extremely adaptable and agile.

  3. Jon Burg on

    So where does this take price matching?

    When online and the local competitive retail market are truly playing on a level playing field, local retail is going to take a hit. They won’t be able to price match.

    But many of us wouldn’t purchase online without first having that tactile hands on experience. I visited Best Buy and Staples to sample Dell computers before making a purchase decision. But I wouldn’t purchase anything pricey at retail without first doing an online price comparison.

    The dynamic is going to change… in a very real way.

  4. Doug Meacham on

    Both Circuit and Bestbuy have policies that say they won’t price match “internet-only” retailers so they are already taking a hit.

    They try to defend by getting vendors to make slight variations in the products and attaching a model number only available at that chain, but that only goes so far these days.

    The quality of high def TVs is so consistent across brands that most people can discern a meaningful difference. Over the last year, I have started replacing my older analog TVs and the last two I bought from sight unseen, but at a significant discount over any local store.

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