Use Local Stores As Amazon Showrooms, Get Amazon Discount

Consumerist readers and editors alike often joke that electronics retail stores are real-life showrooms for Amazon and Newegg, but tomorrow (December 10) Amazon is offering up to $15 in discounts to customers who do just that. And help them spy on local brick-and-mortar retailers while they’re at it.

If you want to join in the fun, you’ll need an iOS or Android smartphone with location services turned on. Zap items that you’re interested in purchasing, submit pricing information to Amazon, and you’ll get 5% off (up to $5) items in key gift categories like toys, sports, electronics, music, and DVDs if you decide to purchase it from Amazon. You can, of course, securely complete your purchase right from the app.

Independent businesses are not pleased with the promotion. “What’s ironic is they claim they want to work with independent businesses, but all they’re really trying to do is put independent businesses under,” a Pennsylvania record store owner told a local Patch reporter.

A children’s bookstore owner promised to kick out anyone seen scanning items in her store with the app, telling Patch, “[i]t’s disgraceful, and if anybody comes into my store and tries to do it, they’re getting bounced.”

Price Check for iPhone and Android [Amazon]
Doylestown Biz: Amazon’s Price Check App ‘Kind of Evil’ [Patch]

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  1. dragonfire81 says:

    I think its a nifty idea for a promotion, but I also think store owners are right to be upset about it.

    • BuntaFujiwara says:

      If the store has a problem with it, they are more than able to discount the item to get a sale. There’s obviously reasons people shop online now. It’s better than getting pepper sprayed trying to do some shopping.

    • DariusC says:

      Since amazon supports the tax bill and now wants pricing information from B&M stores, I assume they are planning to open a retail chain… Just my prediction, but I do have significant business knowledge and that is the exact strategy I would take since you could get on the side of the government and lawmakes because you would be paying tax on sales anyways if you opened one up, so this falls in line with that plan.

      • DariusC says:

        Forgot to mention how the pricing information helps Amazon. By locating by GPS the area and getting pricing information, they can determine the best markets for them to compete in and which ones may be not so good. It also gives them an idea of how many customers use their app and use it in the area. They can add that to their database of users locations to determine the best strategy.

      • Cerne says:

        Seriously? You think Amazon is going to open a retail chain? Because abandoning everything that makes their business successful seems like a good idea to you? Trading in a highly successful model for one with higher costs and lower margins? Do you think Netflix is going to take over Blockbuster’s brick and mortar business as well?

        You have a horrible head for business.

        • DariusC says:

          Wow, that was incredibly rude. Their business model is shifting because the taxes will soon be imposed on them. They will be no different than retail stores and may be at a disadvantage since B&M will be closer and will have already paid for shipping costs which are included in the price. Coupled with their data and supply sources, they would definitely have a viable option to take over the B&M retail market. Perhaps you should stop and consider the opinions of other people before resorting to name calling and justify your answer with something more than “everything that makes them successful.”

          • OutPastPluto says:

            Nope.

            This whole argument about the “tax advantage” Amazon has is just mindless political demagouery meant to help soften the blow of a politician money grab. The few percent that Amazon will be tacked onto a purchase is minor compared to the price advantage that Amazon has coupled with their comprehensive selection.

            I laugh at the idea of using local stores as a “show room” because the anemic offerings of local stores is why I use Amazon to begin with.

            Lower prices are just a bonus.

            Sales taxes won’t change that.

            If something actually does exist at a B&M, there’s some chance I might buy it there. If local shopkeepers are up in arms over unwittingly being Amazon’s showroom then that just confirmed what I said about Amazon’s price advantage (regardless of sales taxes).

            • DariusC says:

              I wasn’t justifying the tax increase, I was just saying that Amazon could roll with the punches by opening up a retail store since it would mean no B&M stores could attack them for being online and low overhead (can’t compete with that) and because the taxes will soften their sales after the bill is passed. A retail store would allow them to get grips on the B&M market. I do see your point in the overhead and such though. Still don’t understand their price advantage over Walmart if they get taxed, but I guess their free shipping comes into play and with the bulk discount shipping they probably come out ahead. I retract my thoughts on the matter. Would be nice to have Amazon B&M, if only for the customer service (since we know Amazon CS kicks ass!)

          • Cerne says:

            You really have no idea how Amazon works do you?

            They don’t make profit by having a tax advantage, they make profit by having massive cost advantages. Maintaining and staff multiple stores costs way more than running a few incredibly efficient warehouses and a data centre. Amazon’s model allows them to have a massive variety of stock and sell it really cheaply compared to brick and mortar stores, no way are they ever going change that.

    • crashfrog says:

      Sorry, but no. Retail store owners don’t have a right to enforce ignorance on their customers.

      Free markets work when information is available to all. When you’re taking steps to control the information available to other participants in the market – like your customers – then you’re trying to set up a market that isn’t free.

  2. SkokieGuy says:

    When Walmart first came to town, everyone raved about the low prices. Now of course, we all bitch about their labor policies, imported products, etc. etc. But is Walmart truly evil, or is it us, so hungry for deals that helped to destroy American manufacturing in the process.

    Similarly, we all want cheap airfares, then bitch about all sorts of services being at an additional fee and the level of service declining.

    Currently, everyone is so smug about what great shopping ninjas they are, and using technology to get the best deal.

    When there is no more B & M retail, no local stores to buy products, no local salespeople to talk to, no local business to bring a damaged product to, will we eventually vilify Amazon, like we currently do for Walmart?

    Of course this scenario also means a permanent reduction in local jobs, local sales tax revenue, vacant storefronts, declining commercial property values…..

    I LOVE a great deal and am a hard negotiator, but I also try and patronize local stores and will pay more than the cheapest possible price for items that might require service (I will only buy from ABT Appliance, not cheapest price on earth, but very fair and absolutely stellar customer service)

    • NeverLetMeDown says:

      Another vote for ABT. Yeah, they’re not the cheapest (nor do they claim to be), but they’re almost always pretty darn close, and the service really is superb (at least for appliances, never tried to get anything else there). The sales staff knows the product well, the installation guys are highly competent, friendly, and on time.

      • SkokieGuy says:

        I had a dishwasher repair with ABT, (broken glass down deep in the mechanism). The tech showed my how to disassemble the parts, so if it happened again, I could repair it myself.

        Turns out a part was needed, he didn’t have it on the truck, he came back when the part arrived, at no additional charge.

        He explained: “It’s not fair for you to pay more just because I didn’t have it with me.”

        In their stores, hang giant banners: “The answer to any reasonable request is YES!”

        That’s how you win raving, foaming at the mouth loyal customers. I will physically hurt my friends who need appliances and do not go to ABT. I may tattoo their logo on my body.

        • viriiman says:

          Who/What is ABT?

          • SkokieGuy says:

            ABT is an appliance and electronics store in the Chicago area that is legendary for their service. They also sell online.

            ABT.com

          • humphrmi says:

            It’s a retail electronics and appliance store local in the Chicago area. Top notch customer service. They also are big on negotiating; you can pick up almost anything in their store and walk up to a salesperson and say “I’ll give you this much for it,” and if the price is reasonable they’ll say yes.

            Interestingly, a lot of people think it’s ABT, it’s actually Abt, named by the founder David Abt.

          • JoeDawson says:

            ABT is a locally owned Electronics store in the Chicago Area… They even have an Apple store INSIDE… It is an amazing facility, and they have awesome customer service for warrantee work…

            http://www.abt.com

    • mantari says:

      If Best Buy is replaced by Amazon, I am fine with that. If you’ve had to work with the customer service department of both companies, you’d agree, too.

      • SkokieGuy says:

        Why is it Best Buy vs. Amazon?

        How about BB is replaced by locally owned stores (ya know so you can see and touch and try out electronics before buying them).

        Maybe the stores have well trained staff, fair policies, reliable and fair service?

        Yes, BB generally deserves their rep, but that only means that there is room for a smart, better run business to fill the void.

        • Rachacha says:

          a b and m store with qualified and knowledgable staff is the only one that will be able to compete with Amazon provided their prices are only marginally higher than Amazon. At Best buy I receive no service so price is generally my driving force but if there was a local store with helpful staff I would be willing to pay a small premium for their knowledge and assistance.

        • bsh0544 says:

          Such stores aren’t all that common. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a small/local electronics retailer.

          Also in my experience the local retailers aren’t just priced a little bit higher, but significantly. I don’t mind supporting local small businesses, but I’m not paying an extra 50% to do so.

        • Stickdude says:

          Yes, BB generally deserves their rep, but that only means that there is room for a smart, better run business to fill the void.

          Exactly. It’s called NewEgg.

    • chucklebuck says:

      I agree. I use Amazon for things not available at my small local businesses. Things like electronics, where we don’t have a small local electronics retailer. But if I can get it at a business where I know the owner as more than just the owner, but also a neighbor and friend, price is secondary to that for me.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      I’m not going to disagree with any particular point, but your comment on lower commercial property values intrigued me.

      In an ideal world (becuase that occurs so often, right?) we might move to an online-only(almost) method of shopping, and then all that commercial property could be torn down and turned into residentail or public-works space. The world would be much better if we got rid of all those run-down commercial buildings and replaced them with schools or parks or just new housing.

      Then maybe everyone really could own a home. Again, in an ideal world.

      • SkokieGuy says:

        We’re not hurting for lack of residential property, the problem is millions of home are vacant and in foreclosure.

        More importantly, moving to online only shopping isn’t really suitable for everyone. Some products you want to touch and feel before you buy. Clothing (does it fit, how do I look in it), cars, electronics (is the camera, cell phone, etc. easy to use).

        And online only shopping means that the back end can (and is) be outsourced to the lowest-cost country, continuing the exit of US jobs.

      • Bsamm09 says:

        So you want all the local businesses to go out of business and throw them all into public housing that is supported by taxes on the rich? Where the businesses were (and have not been turned into housing projects) will now be public works space to keep them busy.

        Would this online only shopping retailers be gov’t run? Because that’s all you are missing from full on communism.

    • tooluser says:

      Too much generalization. We’re not all doing those things. I disagree with most of what you wrote.

      The only good local stores are those that offer something you can’t get anywhere else (product, price, service or selection). Those stores are few and far between, and when I find them, I shop there more than once. Other than gasoline and fresh food products, there’s nothing I need to buy locally.

      The internet allows people to more quickly filter out the mediocrity, if not outright fraud and abuse, that most stores, big or small, offer their customers.

  3. ChaosOnion says:

    It’s a trap! Amazon will use the pricing information harvested by these shoppers to bring their prices in-line with brick and mortar stores. Then, they will give a modicum of a discount that coupled with convenience will appear to be a great deal. An while that may be a better deal than shopping at X-mart, it will not be as good a deal as in the past. This surge to homogeneity in the market may expose Amazon to market-share loss to the “next big thing.”

    • scoosdad says:

      I think you’re on to something here. And how long before Amazon leverages that data to show you a selling price that’s unique to you and set by your location? No different than a national chain store setting different selling prices on some items than the same chain in other locations “because they can”.

      Slippery slope here, folks.

  4. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    I’m not really sure the discount is worth it in some places (if prices are equal), especially when you factor in travel time, gas, and if you pay for shipping.

  5. deathbecomesme says:

    O’reilly’s Autoparts is the only local store I feel any loyalty too. They may charge more for a part but they are willing to go outside and show you a few things under the hood and get their hands dirty. They also lend me their tools if I do the job in the lot. Autozone and Advanced Autoparts always seems like they can’t get me out of their store fast enough. They could care less about any questions I may have.

    Only other retail place here in Buda, TX is the Walmart and I have no loyalty for them so yes I get most of my stuff on Amazon. Prime Student membership basically pays for itself

    • wen says:

      I’ve never been to O’Reilly, but the experiences I’ve had with Advance and Autozone are night and day. I have never been treated like such garbage every time I have gone into a store like I have with Autozone. I don’t know if they just assume since I’m female that I don’t know what I need, but they also do nothing to help out and have a no-can-do attitude. Advance is always so nice and offers to help with anything they can.

    • Firevine says:

      I started going to the O’Reilly by my job after Autozone screwed me on a warranty replacement. I vowed to never step foot into Autozone again anyway, but holy crap, this O’Reilly is GREAT. The Advance here is fine too, but these guys at O’Reilly are really good. When you go in and see a bunch of young folks, you’d expect typical young person don’t give a crap behavior, but these guys are super helpful, funny, friendly, and know their stuff. This location has made more off me than it would have cost Autozone to replace that battery now too. Actually, I should thank Autozone instead of being pissed at them.

      • deathbecomesme says:

        Agreed. I bought a car for cash off of craiglist for a commuter. Engine runs great but it needs some maintenance. I’ve spent about $600 in the past 5 months at O’Reillys. That doesnt include the business I send their way. When my girlfriends battery died and Pep Boys refused to honor their warranty because my gf didnt have the original receipt I sent her to O’Reillys. When her alternator went out last week I changed it out in the OReillys parking lot and swapped it out for a reman alternator. When my brothers CV axle started clicking I sent him to O’Reillys. That’s how a business should run. Treat your customers right and they treat you in return.

    • Sanspants says:

      Stubbs does a better job.

    • Luke says:

      There’s the HEB Plus in Kyle, but that is a bit of a drive. I’m from Buda myself.

      • deathbecomesme says:

        actually I prefer the HEB in Buda. The HEB plus is more expensive. Even the smallest items are anywhere from a dime to 25cents more.

        • Luke says:

          My brother is a a manager at the Buda HEB. The HEB Plus is good if you need things other than groceries. TV etc

  6. Ben says:

    Is there any way to look up the UPC number for a given item? If you had the string of numbers, you could just use an online UPC generator and scan your screen from home!

    So far, I can only find AISNs or ISBNs online, which apparently do not translate directly into UPCs.

    • notovny says:

      To get the discount, you have to have Location Services enabled for the Amazon Price Check app. Probably still worth a shot; the worst that will happen is that Amazon will cancel your purchase for not being in a store when price-checking.

      • t2fastspin says:

        It seems that location is optional:

        Price Check In-store Deals
        During the promotional period (see below), we are offering through the Price Check by Amazon application (“Price Check”) a discount based off the Amazon Price as an introduction to sharing in-store advertised prices with us. In-store price submission and location confirmation are optional.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        Oooh, thanks for posting that. I usually leave GPS off to save battery life (and for privacy), but I’ll make sure to turn it on if I’m comparison shopping with my phone. I’m curious to test this out, even if I don’t actually purchase anything.

    • silyolpooh says:

      The scanner on the Amazon app will read AISN and ISBN’s, too. But the previous post is correct: it uses your GPS to determine what store you’re in.

  7. FourMat says:

    I’m an avid cyclist. Because I put a lot of miles on my bikes, I have a lot of maintenance, and go though chains, bar tape, tires etc. I could get all of these thing cheap online. BUT, when I started cycling, my local bike shop took the time to educate me and give me direct advice, eg. Use this, not that, this will fit, this won’t. Yes they are a few dollars more for cycling staples, but all in all, I believe that I am coming out ahead when it comes to time and aggravation. If I did not support my shop, they wouldn’t be there for me when I need them.

    I am an Amazon Prime customer. I love the service and order from them all of the time, but I personally believe that this promotion is really sending the wrong message. Amazon doesn’t want to have to charge local sales taxes, but if they continue to piss of the local merchants in this way, they will have to deal with a HUGE lobby that will force legislators to put them on even footing with local shops. If they want to go head to head with the big box guys, then I say have at it, but leave the little guys alone…

    • Agent Hooter Enjoys Enhanced Patdowns says:

      Replace ‘cycling’ with ‘hockey’ and I’ve got the exact same story. Nothing like having folks to talk to and help you out, who are knowledgeable about their products and honest about your needs. Sure it’s a store out of my way, and sure I pay more than I would at a Dick’s or online, but damn do they more than make up for it.

  8. silyolpooh says:

    “you’ll need an iOS or Android”

    …or Windows Phone. Amazon has a pretty solid WinPhone app that’s part of this promo (not that I don’t use it all the time anyway).

  9. ohiomensch says:

    Local stores really shot themselves in the foot for me when I walk in, looking for something that should be a common item, only to be told “if you come over to the computer I will be happy to order it for you and it will be here in 3-5 days”. If I wanted to order it on the internet, I would have stayed in my jammies and not walked into this fine establishment. They are killing their own business.

    • RandomHookup says:

      So you’ll go home and order it for 3-5 day delivery? Stores can’t carry everything and it’s better than just telling you to go get it on Amazon. Most consumers don’t think about the ability to have something ordered to pick up in the store and for _some_ that’s a huge convenience (or maybe even a cost saving compared to shipping costs).

      • OutPastPluto says:

        Actually they can “carry everything”. They just have to be less lame. If you are going to put a store up, be serious about it and don’t do it half-*ssed. There are two chain stores in my neighborhood and both are inferior scaled down versions. Neither one seem worthwhile enough to avoid the schlep you had to take before they were built.

        Don’t put up 3 lame scaled down Best Buys. Just build fewer of them and make them worth bothering with.

    • Ayanami says:

      This. I own an eee pad transformer. I needed a new charger. BestBuy sells the device but does NOT sell chargers, or the usb dongle, or a screen protector. But they do have 40 dollar (ouch) cases that are no better than the 10 dollar ones on the Internet. I think things like this is what the OP is talking about. For me, I is a common problem with many retailers and multiple products.

  10. DarrenO says:

    A children’s bookstore owner promised to kick out anyone seen scanning items in her store with the app, telling Patch, “[i]t’s disgraceful, and if anybody comes into my store and tries to do it, they’re getting bounced.” — Yeah, THAT’S a great way to treat a customer.

    • chucklebuck says:

      I’d argue that that person is an Amazon customer, not a customer of that store.

    • Kaleey says:

      It’s not much different than grocery styores not allowing people from other stores to come in and write down all of their prices to relay to a competitor. Comparison shopping is fine, but this is Amazon asking their shoppers to do the dirty work for them – “tell us what someone else is charging so we can undercut them!”

      The least Amazon could do is do the work themselves. I don’t blame that owner. I hope they do it politely, and not throw someone out on the street, but this is not a new idea, asking someone to leave if their sole purpose is to report pricing information to a competitor.

    • Bunnies Attack! says:

      Thats the whole point, isn’t it? They’re not customers. She knows she can’t beat Amazons price and those people will find out as soon as they scan it, therefore those aren’t her customers and she doesn’t care about offending them.

      • lucky13 says:

        And if she follows through, they’ll NEVER be customers of her store. I doubt that is what she really wants – a bad customer experience has a lot more mileage to it than a good one.

        It’s fun to be overly dramatic sometimes but throwing people out of your store is not a good business plan for success.

    • ReverendTed says:

      You’re right. That’d be a terrible way to treat a customer. But if you’re in the store scanning an item with the Amazon App, you’re NOT a customer.
      Penny Arcade’s strip “Words and Their Meanings” comes to mind.

      • ReverendTed says:

        Ok, wow. I guess I spent a few too many minutes looking up the name of that Penny Arcade strip, because DANG it seems like I’m not the only one with this perspective.

      • DarrenO says:

        I disagree with you 100%. I’ve had an Amazon app on my phone for years, and check prices all the time while shopping in brick and mortar stores. On some items Amazon is cheaper, on others the B&M store is cheaper. Sometimes Amazon is just slightly cheaper, but not enough to give me the incentive to wait a few days to get the product.

        If I had to put numbers on my experience, I’d say it’s about 50/50 with checking the app as sometimes it makes me buy at Amazon and others at the B&M store. It’s just about being an informed consumer.

        Just because someone is checking a price on this app does NOT mean they’re not a valuable customer of whatever B&M store they’re in. And, it appears that Amazon is just giving a small 5% discount on the items, for one day, with a limit of three items so 1. it’s a small promotion and 2. with the discount it’s STILL not guaranteeing it’s a cheaper buy than whatever the store is offering.

      • Ayanami says:

        Sadly, she probably won’t be in business next year. Instead of fighting mobile shopping, she should be embracing it. Right now she sounds like a Blockbuster, Yahoo, RIM or HP exec. Too resistant to a changing marketplace, and moving too slowly.

    • mannyvel says:

      Remember, there’s a balance between price and convenience. Kicking people out is something they say, but let’s get real: if the store is within a few bucks of amazon people might opt for buying it at the store. If you kick them out you lose a potential customer permanently.

      People buy stuff at convenience stores all the time. Everyone knows everything costs more than a grocery store.

      But you know, it’s your store and you can do what you want.

  11. silyolpooh says:

    I wonder what the National Retail Federation will do about this.

  12. BennieHannah says:

    If you can’t beat them, join them. Local businesses should offer a matching discount or other promotions to encourage folks to shop local. I know a lot of businesses that really aren’t as web savvy as they need to be. They’re not collecting email addresses (and purchasing history databases), facebooking, blogging, etc. or they aren’t using these effectively (i.e. in an informative but *restrained* manner) to promote their businesses. A lot of local sales are based upon relationships and repeated contact. Personal service is one thing the internet cannot provide — well, except for those superhuman bastards at Zappos.

    For example, in our town a long-vacant building was purchased and everyone was abuzz, wondering what store would be coming, especially when we saw construction crews. The owners really missed an opportunity to put up a tantalizing sign, a web site (with before and after pictures of the interior) to introduce themselves to the community. The grand opening was not advertised, no promotions or discounts were offered to get the locals pumped and once you fail to exploit the excitement of THE NEW!, you don’t get a do-over. Now they’re just one more store in town.

    • lucky13 says:

      “If you can’t beat them, join them. Local businesses should offer a matching discount or other promotions to encourage folks to shop local.”

      That would be the smart play for the B&M store – instead of throwing people out of the store, offer them an instant $5 rebate. Lose a customer (or many) for life or gain a customer for life – which would you choose?

  13. lifesmyplaypen says:

    Just came here to acknowledge the hometown article!
    Also, this is definitely sorta messed up. Good way for Amazon to drum up business, but shouldn’t this be a way for them to reach out to these businesses to have them sell through amazon as well?

  14. PunditGuy says:

    It’s not my job to keep any retailer in business. If I want something, I want the newest version of it at the best price/quality point for me. Do you think that when these mom & pop shops order their products from the wholesaler, they have something else in mind?

    I know it’s crazy, but I think an informed consumer base is a good thing. It’s good to comparison shop. It’s good to research alternatives. It’s good to get an idea as to whether people like the item you’re considering (if you trust their reviews). I can do all of these things while I’m shopping, thanks to mobile data.

    Don’t like it, book store owner? Maybe I’ll visit your going-out-of-business sale, but probably won’t buy anything if you use a liquidator. Because I’ll have my phone with me, and I’ll know if they’re trying to rip me off.

    • ReverendTed says:

      Your approach is not universal. Would it be different if you KNEW the shop owner?
      That aside, buying local makes a difference but you have to decide if it’s a difference that has value to you personally. Do you donate to causes you believe in?
      Spending a little bit more at a local retailer (because they may not be able to compete on volume, and therefore cost) keeps your money in the local economy.
      I’ll admit, though, that there’s a local gas station that has always gouged on gas prices, and I would often drive just a little out of my way to avoid buying gas there, and I was thrilled when a chain station opened up next door. Even though they’ve gotten in a “price war”, I won’t go back because of the ill will his approach generated.

  15. theblackdog says:

    Fine then, I’ll only scan stuff at Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, and Gamestop

  16. zantafio says:

    My bet is on FIVE.

    That is, FIVE DAYS from now until Consumerist reports the first fist fight between a store manager and an Amazon app user.

  17. Straspey says:

    This seems like an exercise in diminished returns.

    How much time – how many irretrievable moments out of the precious little time we all have here – do we want to spend just to save ten of fifteen dollars on a retail purchase ?

    It’s kind of like driving around for an hour looking for the gas station with the cheapest prices. Everybody is selling gas at $3.79 a gallon – but after spending time doing lots of research, and spending even more time driving around (while using up a couple gallons) you find a place that sells it for $3.59.

    Sure – if you happen to pass the cheaper place, by all means stop in and fill up the tank. Or if you already know you’ll be in the area for some other reason today, then certainly plan on stopping in to buy the less-expensive gas.

    Similarly, if I see an item I want at a B&M store, and I think the price is fair, then I will buy it right then an be done with it – and move on to my next task, or whatever.

    Plus – as mentioned above – in my case, I usually prefer dealing with a live person – especially in a smaller store – where they will often remember you the next time you walk in.

  18. GoldVRod says:

    When I went to Best Buy to buy an Xbox 360 after they’d just come out they had them stashed away in the back so you had to go through a sales rep to get one – you couldn’t just pick one up and buy it.

    Before leaving the store I was asked NINE times by seven different reps and two cashiers if I want the extended warranty. I was also hassled about buying extra controllers, games and cabling, a visa card, best buy card and so on… all stuff I did not want. I felt it was a very real bullying and tiring experience and one I have not repeated. Floor salesmen aren’t there to help and advise, they’re there to upsell with force and are more than happy to lie about the product to get their upsell in. Returning an item to Best Buy is an equally awful drawn-out experience which may or may not result in success.

    Now let’s compare to buying online, especially Amazon – one click, cheaper price and I’m done. Need to return something? Two clicks, zero return fees or restocking fees and I’m done. Does the website offer me additional products that may be of interest? Sure it does – but it doesn’t make me click ‘no thanks’ NINE times before I can checkout on the site. Imagine how much of a pain it would be if a website did that.

    Whilst the price is obviously a factor, it’s not the prices themselves that is necessarily killing big box stores it’s the terrible before, during and after-sales service. If they could replicate the online experience in person – for example, employees who actually take a polite ‘not interested’ as an answer rather than attempting to form a debate about their cruddy monster cables then perhaps they would make more money. It’s all about the service.

    Plus, when a Best Buy has to have two out of shape bouncers at the door attempting to laughably look menacing it doesn’t exactly invite you in for a nice shopping experience.

  19. MPD01605 says:

    Unless there’s a crazy difference in price (like $119 Amazon vs $199 in-store) I’ll usually just use the app to check out reviews and probably still buy in-store.

  20. zyphbear says:

    I will say that while I do respect small businesses when buying and compare pricing to not count that amazon doesn’t charge taxes, but also allow about an extra 15% leeway in price for a small business.

    You also need to be very careful about prohibiting cell phones at all in your stores, especially in places like bookstores (and other stores that carry things people tend to look for specific items). I know I have a list with my partner of books we are looking for that are not easy to find (some in series we already have, some other books that are not part of ongoing series but out of print) that we keep up to date on Google Docs and pull up on our phone, so we can make sure we found the right thing and not waste our money for something we already have. Same thing with DVDs, Blu-rays and other items that fit into a collection.

    I would say that maybe instead of banning cell phones, run your own special: 5% off any purchase if the customer purchases an item and has the app. Five percent is not very much and can really help since the customer only gets it off 3 items. Plus when you make your poster/flyer, make a point of saying how purchasing with a small business helps the local economy. Or even up it to ten percent if the customer uninstalls the app at the register!

    Too much of the time, people just get fired up over a megastore’s promotion, forgetting they can fight fire with fire if they read and use the downfalls of the promo to their own advantage.

  21. profchaos79 says:

    If you think price = cost, you’re doing it wrong.

    • PunditGuy says:

      You know darn well that for much of what we buy and use, the price is the cost. Being able to talk to someone highly knowledgeable about a product isn’t always important, nor is the ability to quickly return something.

      • profchaos79 says:

        For much of what we buy, I agree. And I am very much pro-Amazon, but just not for this deal.
        If you buy a TV from Amazon (which I have done) and save $100 but have to battle someone to handle a repair/warranty/return issue, then I’d rather spend the extra money to deal with someone who I know will handle it well without a fight. The potential hours of headaches are worth it, I believe.

        I am not saying Amazon is like that, nor am I say the brick & mortars are “good,” but it is an example of price not equaling cost.

  22. Outrun1986 says:

    The reason I buy online is because I can’t get service in any retail store around here. No I do not expect them to provide me customer service, but since I am doing my own work and research on the product I want to buy you are darn well right I am gonna buy it at the lowest possible price wherever that may be. Since retail stores are not loyal to me, why should I be loyal to them? They aren’t helping me in any way, they don’t have trained employees, they can’t explain the features of products other than what is on the box, you don’t get to try out the products in the store, they are just there to sell me the product. I still have to do my own work and research regardless of where I shop.

    It also takes longer to buy in a store, I have to put up with warranty upsells, donation upsells, magazine subscription upsells, and if I am buying some electronics its always under lock and key which means I have to wait around for a sales associate to come and unlock it, sell it to me, give me the upsell and then walk me to the door with the item. This process could take over 30 min depending on availability of staff. With Amazon its 5 min, a few clicks and its on its way to my door.

    There are also many items on display in stores that aren’t even in stock, so after I decide what electronics item I want, I might be waiting 20 min just to have an employee from the back room come and say its not in stock. Of course there is no compensation for my time in that situation. Stores could be putting “out of stock” signs on items that require employees to go get them from the back room to avoid this situation.

    The price difference can be 50% off or more in some cases, if its the same exact item you can get everywhere at a lower price why not patronize the place that has the lowest price, you would be crazy not to.

    There aren’t any local general purpose stores that have good service here, I wouldn’t be buying a TV from a mom & pop anyways, the mom & pop stores here are terrible, are probably selling stolen merchandise, refurbished but barely working merchandise and are basically fly by night operations. They could easily leave you holding a broken item with no opportunity for returns or holding your payment after they go out of business. In this case you are better off buying at a big box retailer, where you at least have a chance if your item is broken.

    There are reasons people are shopping online more and not at retail, though over here, the retail stores are packed with carts and carts full of stuff. I do not want to hear retailers crying that they are losing sales to this, because over here its less than 5% of shoppers that actually use their phones and mobile devices while shopping to make a decision to buy the product elsewhere. If retailers are that afraid, then they need to step up and offer something that online retailers can’t.

  23. Draskuul says:

    I was at a motorcycle shop a few years ago looking at jackets. I found one that would possibly work, but I wanted to find out safety reviews and such on it. I didn’t have a pen or a smart phone, but I did at least have a cell phone with a camera, so took a picture of the tab. The guys at the shop got all bent out of shape over it.

    The sad part? It was their own in-house brand. There was no way I could possibly buy the jacket somewhere else other than their own chain.

  24. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    i think local store owners should offer an in-store promotion to counter it. i hope that would be possible if they don’t lose money on it.

  25. OMG_BECKY says:

    What about people who are too disabled to leave their homes (like me, thanks to Bayer Pharmaceuticals CRIPPLING me with their poisonous antibiotic, Cipro). I have no choice but to shop online now.

  26. ScandalMgr says:

    My advice to retailers: The cheapest way to fight this is to install a cell phone jammer.

    • chwebb1 says:

      I really hope you’re kidding. Because I feel that most people would definitely shop elsewhere if stores started doing that.

  27. Firesoul1 says:

    The part where the children’s book store would kick someone out for comparing prices is ridiculous. Every consumer has the right to judge where and how to spend their money. Advice for brick and mortar stores, compete by offering a price match with a discount towards another product or a gift card.

  28. Extended-Warranty says:

    It’s hard to argue with people why they should pay a higher price for things.

    I’m just sick of hearing how it’s because of greedy CEOs why there aren’t enough jobs anymore. It can’t be because of evading sales taxes and eliminating overhead, right?

  29. Spokker says:

    They are giving me a discount for something I’ve been doing for years. Good on Amazon. They are one of the few great companies out there.

  30. P_Smith says:

    First you say window shop at local stores but buy on amazon.

    Then you say start a “cash mob” to support local businesses.

    Make up your minds, chumps.

  31. suburbancowboy says:

    It’s one thing to go into K-mart or Home Depot and compare on price using an app, because price is really the only thing you base your purchase on when you shop at those stores. If you go into a mom and pop and do that though, I think it’s extremely rude.

    When you buy from a mom and pop store, you get attention and sales help, and you support your local economy. If you think a mom and pop store can sell something as cheaply as Amazon, you are crazy. The company that does fulfillment for Amazon has been accused of running their warehouses like sweatshops with super high temperatures and no AC, ambulances waiting outside to cart away the workers who drop from the conditions.

    Price isn’t everything you know? Most of the time the cheaper prices come with hidden costs. Those costs often include worker exploitation or environmental abuse. But if money is the most important thing i the world to you, then that’s your prerogative.

  32. friedduck says:

    Crap move, Amazon. You’re not going to help your case for not paying sales taxes if you succeed in killing off the businesses that DO pay sales tax.