Friday, April 8, 2011

The Birth of In-store eCommerce

With recent talk that the Amazon Payments division is testing the Near Field Communication (NFC) platform one thing is quite clear, Amazon is looking for ways to expand their mobile commerce capabilities. As well they might, given that the projected mobile commerce revenue in the year 2014 will be, according to the IT research firm Gartner, close to $250 billion. The area of mobile commerce is also expected to explode in the coming year. For those unfamiliar with it, NFC allows for shortwave communication between devices that can be used to make and receive payments with mobile phones and other handheld devices. In other words, it allows mobile phones to communicate with cash registers.

But why would Amazon need that? All their cash registers are, after all, of the virtual kind. The online retailer will not comment, but one avenue that will open up once they integrate the NFC platform is the ability for customers to compare the prices of items sold in a physical store with those sold on Amazon. For example, if you see an expensive TV in a physical store you will now be able to scan it, check its availability on Amazon, and get it shipped to your home from them, if they offer the better price, as often they do. Or alternatively, if you can't find the right size, or color in a physical store, you will now be able to scan the item, and then search for it and order it from Amazon. The integration of the NFC platform could also enable customers to order complementary, or related things, such as matching furniture items, accessories, or books from Amazon, while purchasing the actual item from another retailer. For example, buying a camera in a physical store and ordering the how-to manual from Amazon at the same time. Similarly, brave retailers could use this feature to sell Amazon items in their physical store and make a profit on the affiliate commission.

The Birth of In-Store eCommerce

There is some speculation that Amazon is considering venturing into the field of physical retail stores. This does not, however, seem likely in this age of social and mobile commerce, and the rapid dissolution of physical stores in favor of online ones. More than likely, Amazon is working on a new hybrid of eCommerce and mobile commerce, which will give customers even greater freedom in comparing items and prices offered by different retailers in order to get the best deal. It looks a lot more like Amazon is trying to cash in and build on the deals and coupons craze, initiated by Dealpon, and continued by Facebook and others.

By allowing customers to do a price comparison on a certain item right there in the store using their mobile phones is a smart move in our fast paced world. Provided Amazon carries the item in question, and that they offer it at a lower price, this could also prove to be almost like having a physical store, but without the added cost.

Staff Blogger, the Technology Gurus, Inc.

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