From L.A. to Brisbane, web design and app design are changing the way people shop- and retailers are growing nervous. The latest outpouring of anger is directed at Amazon due to the company’s new promotion. Using Amazon’s new(ish) Price Check app, shoppers score $5 off purchases if they scan an item in-store and the purchase the item online. Albeit the promotion is limited to three items and for selected purchases only, it is enough of a jab to get retailers fired up. Much of the critisim says that Amazon is turning brick-and-mortar stores into showrooms for their online store, where shoppers have the advantage of physically seeing the product before they buy- a large reason more people don’t shop online- only for them to buy the item off Amazon leaving the retailer to foot the bill for the products, the rent, signage, staff, electricity etc.
The critisim is particularly potent in regards to books; Amazon has been accused of destroying the bookshop. However in its defence if you are the kind of book buyer that loves going to independent book stores and browsing for interesting titles, you are not the kind of person who is hanging out for a 10% discount off Amazon- what is more likely is that it isn’t killing independent stores, rather the big chains: Barnes & Noble, Boarders etc. In addition to the discounts Amazon and online retails can offer, ease of purchase and product range also play an important factor. Take a look at BookDepository.com, my favourite online bookstore. Its web design is clear and easy to use, much better than Amazon’s web design, it offers surprisingly helpful suggestions based off like-minded buyers, it has almost every book I’ve searched for and it offers free shipping.
While Amazons’s Price Check app has been available for over a year now, the lastest promotion is an attempt to increase awareness ahead of the holiday season. It is also not alone, apps such as RedLaser, which has subsequently been bought by Ebay, have been available since mid 2009, and provide the same service: allowing users to enter a product name or scan a barcode and then show the same product on an online store for a cheaper price. Redlaser has already been downloaded over 12 million times.
What is terrifying about these kinds of apps to brick-and-mortar retailers is that they help introduce shoppers who are hesitant about buying objects they cannot see or touch to online shopping. With online shopping increasing by 90% in value from last year, and 126% in volume, I don’t blame them. However with ecommerce and web design moving in leaps and bounds, just take a look at the popularity of online fashion sites like Etsy, ASOS and Urban Outfitters, I am in no hurry to head back to the shopping mall.