Dec 08 AT 4:02 PM Anthony Domanico 110 Comments

Brick and mortar retailers complain about the drawbacks of brick, mortar

pricecheck

Amazon is running a timely promotion this weekend, providing a discount for shoppers who use Amazon’s Price Check app in brick-and-mortar stores, and then order the eligible product through Amazon. Shoppers who do this can perform up to three price checks and score a $5 discount each time they then order that product through amazon (total of $15 savings).

As you can imagine, retailers are none too happy about Amazon’s holiday promotion. In an official statement, the Retail Industry Leaders Association’s spokeswoman Katherine Lugar stated:

Retailers compete on price 365 days a year, and at no time is that competition hotter than during the make-or-break holiday shopping season. However, by continuing to evade collecting state sales taxes, Amazon’s exploitation of a pre-Internet tax loophole is resulting in a 6-10 percent perceived price advantage over their competitors on Main Street.

Amazon’s aggressive promotion of its Price Check App shows the lengths they are willing to go to exploit this tax loophole, and is a stark reminder of why Congress needs to act to protect retailers on Main Street. A failure to act is an implicit endorsement of a subsidy of Amazon, a subsidy that distorts the free market and puts jobs on Main Street at risk.Katherine LugarRetail Industry Leaders Association

It’s pretty obvious that the Retail Industry Leaders Association is using Amazon’s move to promote their own political agenda. I think it’s safe to assume that Amazon would likely run this promotion even if it did charge its customers a sales tax, and nowhere in Amazon’s promotion does it detail the fact that most people who shop Amazon don’t pay sales tax. This promotion is no different than what all retailers do; you sell something for $60, I’ll sell it for $55. Though sales tax is certainly on people’s minds when they buy from Amazon vs. a brick and mortar store, it is not what is at the center of this promotion.

Along similar and more staunchly derogatory lines, in a post entitled “Amazon’s Latest Dick Move,” The Stranger states:

An online retailer convinces customers to do product research for them while simultaneously using small businesses as unpaid showrooms. Someone must have had a huge laugh in the South Lake Union conference room where that idea was brought up. Let me be clear: If you do this, you're a f!@*%&@ %$!hole.Paul ConstantThe Stranger

It’s clear that Amazon is taking significant heat from it’s holiday promotion, something anyone with a brain saw coming the minute the promotion was announced. The Stranger, though presented in a much more lewd fashion, have a bit of a point: Amazon’s Price Check Promotion is hurting small business. I don’t think anyone can dispute that. But just because these businesses can’t fully compete in today’s retail landscape with online-only retailers doesn’t mean that Amazon shouldn’t be allowed to do what it wants to gain business.

Is this a douchey move by Amazon to gain more customers? Definitely. Telling people to go into stores to test out what they want to buy, then giving them an incentive to turn around and buy it on Amazon is a bold slap in the face to brick-and-mortar retailers. But let’s face it; we’re all doing that already anyway.

What do you guys think? Whose side are you on in this debate? Do you think this is as big a deal as people are making it out to be?

Source: GeekWire

Anthony loves all things technology, from hardware to apps and games. You can connect with him via Google+ or Twitter by clicking one of the fancy doo-dads above.

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  • http://clarklab.net Clark Wimberly

    headline ftw

    • BiGMERF

      AAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      • http://www.anthonydomanico.com Anthony Domanico

        Clark did the headline. Once I saw the headline, I figured I pretty much was obligated to write the article.

        • Conduitz

          I thought the same thing, in that once I saw the headline, I had to read. Glad I did, too, because I caught justifiable use of the word “douchey” which until now I was pretty sure I made up. Well done, sirs. Well done.

    • stenzor

      Very clever

      • mr 1338

        i think it is a very rude thing to go to a store, get help from employes, try out the products you want to buy and then….
        pull out your phone and buy on amazon for $5 less :(

        no i dont work in retail but it is just not how it should work

        • LukeT32

          You can’t honestly say you went and tried a product out somewhere then went and shopped around for a better deal……..

          When someones goes to buy a new car they might test drive 20 cars at 10 different dealers. They are only going to buy one car, so are you saying they should buy all 20 because they tried the car out and “wasted” a salesmens time?

          • LukeT32

            ***say you haven’t went

          • CATFACEPANDA

            I can understand LukeT’s point, but the car example isn’t really a good one. It’s not retail, for one thing. Amazon doesn’t sell cars, and I’m sure you know that but the idea behind this article is that it’s hurting businesses when customers come in to shop and then they get their customers lured away by an online retailer that actually point-blank suggests the customer price-check with their app and then buy the item through them.

            I personally also think it’s kind of rude to do this, but it depends on the customer’s intentions. If they are purposely walking into a store with the app in hand, ready to string along a sales associate but knowing they are going to pull out their Amazon price-check app and use that to earn a $5 discount through the online retailer, that is rude. I think that’s unfair to the sales person who is trying to earn a living and giving their time to help the customer.

            It’s understandable that a person might shop around at different car dealers, a car is not something you buy once every two years, like a phone or something. I think I would still think it was rude if Amazon actually did sell cars, and were telling customers to scan the barcode of the car and get $5 off for doing so.

        • DroidPower

          I agree with LukeT on this. But I think that the move will drive competition and may not be as harmful to smaller retail stores as we think.

          The small mom n’ pop retail stores can rely on service and the fact that the customers can bring home the product right away to compete. These stores can, of course, also offer discounts to match Amazon’s price. But I don’t think they’ll really have to. People who go to the mom n’ pop retail stores nowadays know they’re supporting the local small businesses, they know what they pay may be a bit more expensive than they would otherwise at other stores. Perhaps only a minority of shoppers will actually go into a store like this and then use the price check to get a better price.

          If the shopper is actually looking for a deal, he/she will go to a bigger retail store, say Best Buy or Walmart, where the prices are more or less already competitive with Amazon. These bigger retail stores should also have no trouble in price matching Amazon’s price for those who use the price check app in their store. In other words, these bigger stores can take in the costs of price matches. If these stores do price match, then perhaps more shoppers will go to brick and mortar stores because they know they can get the item for the same price as Amazon but on the same day. In turn, then, Amazon’s price check app will actually drive more people to brick and mortar stores and cost lost sales to Amazon. This, again, assumes that the giant retailers do the price match to stay competitive.

          In all cases, I think Amazon’s move is natural and the consumers will end up benefiting the most.

    • kazahani

      So you’re saying that online purchases shouldn’t be subject to the same sales tax that B&M purchases are?

      • dmdhashw

        I shouldn’t have to pay MN sales tax on something that was shipped from CA. It would be one thing if I paid the point of origin state’s sales tax, but what right does the destination state have on collecting any taxes from the sale?

        Should you pay a tax to your home state on items you bought on a trip to NYC?

        • Zac H.

          Actually, yes. That’s the way the Tax law works. Even if you buy something in another county with a cheaper tax rate in the same state, you are supposed to pay the difference when you claim your taxes for that year. I don’t like it, but that’s the way it works, you pay taxes on all purchases for the state and county you live in. You’re also supposed to report any online tax free purchases as well.

        • tetracycloide

          Reality is actually quite the opposite. The tax is on money spent by consumers, not on money earned by a business. The destination state, being the state the consumer is in, is the only state with a right to collect. Items purchased while out of state are not the same thing as buying something while in the sate from someone not in the state so that analogy does not hold.

          • ArKay

            Zac H is right. It’s called Fair Use Tax and a few states have started to enforce it, even though it’s been on the books for a very, very long time. It really only applied when you went out of state to purchase vehicles and high ticket items (boats for example).

            With the rise of intrastate commerce by the internet, it has become an issue as the income a state would normally see by the commerce carried on in it’s state has moved to mail order/ internet sales. I’ll bet that would be where a great deal of the states who are having issue with their budgets have seen their normal tax revenue go to.

            Illinois has even included it on the tax forms as a standard line item entry as opposed to an optional worksheet to supplement the normal tax form. And explained it in simple terms to make folks aware of the law.

            That is why big ticket sellers, like car dealers report the sale and you pay tax based on the state / county you are a resident of. Automatically. Since you buy that vehicle while physically in another county/state the locale you reside it gets their cut because its being -used- in that locale. Hence the IL term Fair Use tax. The same tax code applies to items bought via Mail Order / Internet. It just has been ignored until recently.

            Tax law is long, entwined with all sorts of lawyer speak and designed to let everyone get a hand in on in income. But a quick look through some of the latest updates spell it out pretty clearly. At least here in IL.

            And as an aside – as part of a small business, the business is taxed on the money it makes as well. By having it’s assets taxed at the end of the year. Tax on it’s physical inventory and tax on it’s cash (i.e. it’s savings/checking/etc accounts). So saving the money means you lose it to taxes, spending the money investing into your business to grow it is taxed. Give it out as payroll – taxed even more. Give out bonuses to reduce your cash on hand ? Taxed at an even higher rate. It’s not just the purchaser who gets hit with the tax.

            Assuming the business isn’t choosing to somehow dodge paying those taxes aw well. But that’s a different thing entirely than this.

    • http://sean-the-electrofreak.blogspot.com/ Sean the Electrofreak

      Indeed, that was win.

      …good article too. :p

  • BiGMERF

    There is always hate somewhere.. We complain how we get robbed at the gas pump, cell phone service, etc, etc.. Its a circle

    • erikiksaz

      Amazon is pretty sneaky/genius though. Undercut AND use their B&M competitors to confer an advantage.

      Retailers duking it out = consumer WIN!

      • Wunako

        i have to agree as shady as it might seem its smart on their part… as soon as i read this article i could just hear my manager telling us over the radio that we “have to show these customers that we are more then a show case for amazon” now more then ever it seems.

  • ndub21

    This works out perfectly for me to save $5 on a Google TV I was going to buy as a present!

  • olen

    don’t cry, that’s life

  • Donahue

    Amazon is not hurting small business, Government taxes and regulations are

  • oddball

    In a small town where we are talking locally owned businesses this is a bit of a dick move but really this is directed at the big names; Walmart, Target, and Best Buy. Frankly they aren’t going to be hurt by the people who are doing this.

    • http://www.neilcalvin.com Neil Calvin

      I would agree except for the fact that you’re completely wrong. This hurts big business, too.

  • Dlux

    Sorry brick and mortar. Lower your prices to compete and I’ll shop there. Till then, you’re nothing but a showcase to get hands on something I want.

    • http://www.anthonydomanico.com Anthony Domanico

      Yep, I do this all the time. I went to best buy last night to play with dSLRs I was looking at, then ordered on Amazon.

      • oddball

        Now did you remember to use the price scanner app to get your $5 off?

        • http://www.anthonydomanico.com Anthony Domanico

          I don’t think that starts until Saturday, and I wanted my camera tomorrow. haha

    • stenzor

      To be fair, brick and mortar stores have more overhead costs and therefore need to cover them with higher product prices

      • http://www.anthonydomanico.com Anthony Domanico

        Yeah, but they also don’t need to have stores that are like 2 miles apart from each other. They have some control, but definitely have more costs than Amazon.

        • stenzor

          Ha, that is true.. I live in a relatively small city so I guess I don’t see that here. I think B&M stores really need to push the fact that you can get your items right away and get tech support on the spot while still having competitive pricing.

          The products don’t have to be priced below what an online retailer sells them for, but they have to be priced just enough above that the extra cost is still within the perceived value of buying the product locally rather than wait for it to get shipped.

          • http://www.infotainmentempire.com pekosROB

            And work on their customer service (well, at least the larger stores). I know someone who will pay more because the store he shops at has customer service unparalleled to other people. He doesn’t mind paying extra for knowing if there is a problem they will get it resolved.

          • http://ArtisticAbode.com BetterWithRoot

            Exactly. Brick and mortar is good for the instant gratification. I think that the power is shifting from the big box retailers to the consumer. I can now go look at a car and know what the NADA value is before purchasing. Consumers have the advantage with the internet and its wealth of knowledge at thier fingertips.

            One of the first apps i downloaded on my G1 was the barcode scanner and a shopping app. I was one of the first people in my area to be scanning bar codes trying to find the best price. I find now that it has become commonplace to see people using their phone for the best shopping experience/deal.

          • charliethesuperturtle

            you know something
            let it be and let it drawn competition!
            competition=cheap prices!!!
            :D

        • kazahani

          The thing people don’t realize is that sites like Amazon build profit into the shipping cost. B&M stores don’t dick you over on shipping, so paying $5 – $10 more is really like getting it for the same price.

          • Ellett

            Er, Amazon builds profit into free shipping?! Quite a trick!

            Been shopping at Amazon for many years and haven’t paid a penny for shipping yet, and yet the merchandise usually arrives in 3-4 days.

    • Futureboy

      At the very least, B&M stores should stop being ridiculous about price matching. It’s maddening to be told by a sales rep that they can’t even price-match their own website.

    • http://www.neilcalvin.com Neil Calvin

      And how are they supposed to do that? You think their prices are higher “just because?”

      • http://www.neilcalvin.com Neil Calvin

        Blah, the page freaked out when I posted this. This was meant to be higher in the thread. Now where’s that “Delete” button…

  • Shadowlore

    B&M Retailers need to cry me a river. Instead of colluding to keep items at a nearly identical price in a specific area, Amazon is playing to the customer instead.

    If B&M Stores would learn from what online retailers are doing, instead of criticizing.. they may find themselves getting a larger % of the purchases.

  • WarDrake

    It is a dick move, but amazon did not become the superstore it is by not offending sensibilities, they’re not really doing anything but what they always have done… offer you a lower price.

    makes perfect sense from a business stand point.

  • staryoshi

    Awesome headline.

    Brick and Mortar businesses have to add value to their services to remain competitive, instead of crying about the advantages online resellers have. Brick and Mortar stores have a huge advantage in that potential customers can actually touch and try their products – they need to be more aggressive in capturing buyers who have reached that stage of their product search. Emphasize service, cut cost, and give buyers a compelling reason to choose you over an online reseller.

    • Craig Mogi

      I agree with this completely, if customers are already going into a store to check out a product before they use this type of service, it’s up to the store to understand the sort of competition they face and make purchasing the product in store more appealing to the customer. You can’t really fault Amazon for wanting to gain business through means that are available to them, they’re trying to gain an edge, and that’s what brick and mortar stores are going to have to do, find an edge. As long as they compete, we win, but when businesses start to attack each other every time someone else has an edge, that could spell trouble for the consumer.

      • PapaLos

        Agreed. Train the stupid employees that run the stores so that they’re actually knowledgeable and helpful, and then compete with sites like Amazon by pricematching them in store 110%.

        It’s all about the experience in store. Getting the customer in there, and the product in the hand is 80% of the work. Give them a good experience and competitive pricing/sales, and there will be absolutely nothing to complain about from anybody. ANYBODY!!

        • kazahani

          Fuck you. I run one of those stores, and I give my damnest every day of my life to earn a living for my family.

          It pisses me off to no end when a website undercuts me by $5 and now all of a sudden I have people unwilling to hear anything I say because I don’t have the lower price.

        • kazahani

          “Train the stupid employees…”

          Really? Try doing my job for a day, asshole.

          • david

            See? Amazon does not call us assholes…

            Instead of competing and finding innovative ways for selling stuff ;-), you call names.

            Sad. That’s why online stores are ruling.

  • TAN5150

    Competition sucks but I understand the tax issue. I have a better idea the fed and local gov can reduce taxes for all then it will not be an issue.
    Besides even if we had to pay tax not having to deal with out of stocks, dirty restrooms, rude customers and employees will continue to be a driving force behind on line purchases. Yes taxes or no taxes help but not the only reason.

    • Stacey Harris

      I agree start with what you can fix b&m stores, look at your service, it’s one of the reasons I’ve switched to a lot of online shopping. I’m sick of feeling like I’ve bothered a store employee by walking in.

  • ranwanimator

    Adapt or be left by the wayside. I rarely buy anything but groceries in B&M stores anymore. It’s so much more convenient for someone else to drive the crap to my door. I don’t have to go out in public and deal with idiot sales people or other customers. I also don’t have to be forced to listen to awful Christmas music blaring loudly in every store for 2 months straight. Online shopping FTW!

  • moelsen8

    love that line “But let’s face it; we’re all doing that already anyway.” so true. i wish congress would get their crap together and make the internet tax thing happen already so i don’t have to hear about it anymore. i’m all for leveling the playing field. only thing is, this wouldn’t be leveling it. Katherine Lugar would find a new reason to start whining about online stores. i feel bad for small businesses, but that’s the reality now.

    • http://www.anthonydomanico.com Anthony Domanico

      Right. Amazon can already offer these products cheaper than brick and mortar stores, they also have the added benefit of not having to pay taxes. Even leveling the playing field isn’t leveling the playing field.

  • PapaLos

    I don’t know, I think retailers are crying over spilled milk. They’re pointing the blame at Amazon & this sale for their lack of business? As far as I know, every B&M has the power to start a website, and most already have. This sale seems like a scapegoat, I mean seriously, it’s $5. $5! On one product. If they want to compete (which retail is all about isn’t it? Competing with the people who are offering the same products?) Make their own online only sale where things are cheaper than the B&M or Amazon by like $7, throw in free shipping, and you’re competing with Amazon.

    Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me. I like to consider myself a consumer, and I’d rather go into a store and buy it, have a cashier put it in a bag, and me walk out with it. That’s just the way I am, old fashioned I guess.

    I agree, Amazon is slapping B&M’s in the face, but it’s hilarious. I feel no remorse since most B&M’s screw consumers over constantly. Amazon has it’s followers, as does Best Buy and everyone else.

    I guess this story just struck a nerve since retailers are acting as if this sale is going to put them out of business. Trying to make us feel sorry for them. Sorry, but the last people I’m going to feel sorry for, are the ones that many people I know, as well as myself are constantly giving money to for the things I want.

    Sorry I ranted. Blame nap time.

  • Chuxter

    Why the heck does this app not work for my LG G2x?
    It doesn’t appear on the market when I search within my phone.
    The browser on my PC displays the error: “This app is incompatible with your T-Mobile LGE LG-P999.”

    WHY?!?

    I want my $15…

    • Chuxter

      The “Amazon Mobile” app is available and has a barcode scanner. Does anyone know if I can use that to take advantage of the same promotion?

    • ArticulateFool

      Exactly why this g2x is getting sold tomorrow when my nexus arrives!

  • BJ Beier

    Every business does what they can to survive and sometimes flourish. I will agree that Amazon promoting people to go into the stores to view items and then turn around and buy on Amazon’s site is it bit low, but like Anthony said, we’re all already doing that. The one major drawback to online shopping is not being able to see, hold, test, or play with the item before you buy. Therefore, most of us will go to a store and check out the item before we buy online. Most of the items I buy online end up being cheaper than in a retail store even if tax was applied. Online shopping also has the perks that you can’t get a retail store like shopping in your underwear!

  • zyphbear

    Personally, I think this promo just brings more attention to the fact that you can order online at much better prices. Even if I had to pay taxes at checkout, (which I don’t hold against the local merchant I’m looking at prices for items to purchase), I know I have saved much more money.

    And there are times where if it’s really a “local” small business (local bookstore, comic shop,etc), I personally will give a certain amount of leeway (extra 15% on top of taxes) to cover for the price difference. But there are times where I can’t convince myself to spend almost double locally for some items. For example: I find a collector book at a local store for $100, but Amazon has it for $60, I can’t convince myself to buy it locally. But on the other hand, I will try to buy other smaller items locally instead, at the same place if possible.

  • raichleb

    Dear Mr. Constant, please put me down as a f!@*%&@ %$!hole.

    • http://www.anthonydomanico.com Anthony Domanico

      haha… you tell him.

  • breinhar

    I don’t think this is any worse than the match or beat it deals that stores have. I’ve seen some people go to a store find a good deal just do they could go to another store to beat it.

  • Droid Dewd

    Though I have used Amazon regularly for a lot of items that can be dificult to find in B&M stores and also at a reduced price. However, if I am at the store and I would be getting just a 5 dollar bump so after shipping costs its not gonna be a bonus IMO so I would just buy it at the store anyway.

    • Stacey Harris

      Unless the purchase is over $25 then you get free shipping from Amazon.

    • Johnathan Prochaska

      Unless you have Amazon Prime where all shipping is free (which is awesome)

  • levelm

    Let me get something straight. I don’t care about ‘main street’ or any other business that is going to cost ME more money. If Amazon can offer me the SAME products at a lower price and this causes ‘main street’ businesses to go out of business — I’m all for it. Maybe they will get smart and open a few warehouses and start shipping products at a lower price as well. Knock down the ‘main street’ store and build a park. My family and I will relax there and then hit up an ice cream shop with the money we saved. Keep up the good work Amazon and any other company that saves me and my family OUR hard earned money.

    BTW, I’m all for saving money as long as it isn’t affecting human rights (slave labor, child labor, etc…)

    • kazahani

      Yeah, right up until all the people that used to work at the store that went out of business stop supporting the company you work for. Then you lose your job.

      Not so great now, is it?

      • levelm

        I work for Amazon =o

        • kazahani

          And I buy stuff from Amazon with the money that my employer pays me. If we quit buying stuff, but maybe they don’t have a job for you anymore.

          • david

            Oh cmon, evolve or be extinct. That’s life!

            Evolve your store!

  • golfpedaler

    it IS about the sales tax…this storm has been coming for a while and it needs to be addressed.

    • kazahani

      Amen, brother!

    • http://www.anthonydomanico.com Anthony Domanico

      NO, the sales tax is an issue with online retailers in general, but has nothing to do with this promotion. Making Amazon pay a sales tax (WHICH THEY SUPPORT DOING) will not level the playing field. Amazon will lower their prices to match the sales tax increase, then we’ll hear more amazon bitching.

  • Stacey Harris

    I agree that customers are already doing that, I use my Google Goggles to check prices all the time, especially on larger purchases. I also try to support my local businesses when I can, I’m a lot more likely to use this sort of check at a big box retailer then the mom and pop boutique down the street.

  • http://www.infotainmentempire.com pekosROB

    So brick and mortar stores are complaining about this? What do these stores make more profit over, a $2,000 TV or a $10 pair of crappy headphones?

    I only shop online if at least 1 of 2 things happen:
    1. The price is MUCH cheaper online, even with shipping added (when applicable).
    2. I’m buying an item over $500 and can potentially save at least $40 ($499=$540 with tax where I live); items like $10 CDs aren’t going to make me check online for the CD price, even if it is cheaper.

    So again, is Best Buy making more money off of selling a $2,000 TV or off of their cheaper, sub $100 products? My bet would be the small things which require a very small amount of sales tax.

    • Lee Swanson

      Or their 40 Dollar HDMI cables at Best Buy that you can get for 4 dollars at Monoprice.

  • Lee Swanson

    When I bought my car stereo, I knew more about the product and accessories than the sales person did at Best Buy. If Brick and Mortars want to compete, they also need to provide better service or convenience.

    • kazahani

      How many products does BB sell? 7,000? 8,000? You can’t expect every employee to know everything about every product.

      Amazon doesn’t even have anyone to help you pic out the products. You’re on your own.

      • rfvgyhn

        You can’t expect a customer to pay more if they don’t get more. Amazon doesn’t have anyone helping you out, but it costs $5 (or whatever) less. If a B&M also doesn’t have someone to help out, why would one want to pay the higher price?

  • sylar

    Well that is bound to tick people off, but still I understand why Amazon is doing it and why it makes others mad. Still way to go Amazon, but I still don’t shop online very often, I like to see the product in person when I buy it.

  • megatec45

    Another great way to save a buck or two! But what happens when all the little fish are eaten up by the big fish? No competition left, so then they can charge any price they make up.

  • aholland1

    ZDNet did a clever write up involving the future of brick and mortar by what they think will be around 2021. It’s a good read and frankly is a future I hope comes to pass. Amazon’s business model really is a natural evolution of consumerism, and the sooner people accept that, the sooner we can get there and shop less, enjoy more, and do away with huge numbers of parking lots that aren’t helping the climate any: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/perlow/retail-in-2021-when-clicks-have-buried-bricks/19344.

    • kazahani

      Wait just a tick…

      Where the hell am I supposed to work if the store I run closes up??

      How about all my employees?

      Retail is over 20% of the American workforce. Don’t just doom us all to unemployment.

      • eClipse

        See “escalation of commitment” in Wikipedia.

        Retail is big because it was the only model that worked. In olden times salesmen went from town to town with intricate models of furniture and machines, Those days are over, too.

        You’re not doomed to unemployment unless you are unwilling to change.

        • aholland1

          Exactly, thanks for your insight @eClipse. And @kazahani you need to chill the fuck out before someone reports you for abuse. I saw you flame others up above for their opinions, and I’m sorry if your business is not doing well and whatever other hardships you may be dealing with. This is a public forum though and there’s no reason to bash people because things aren’t going the way you planned. Grow up and adapt or do us all a favor and piss off. The market will adapt to the new business model and people will still keep their jobs, if just in a different capacity; the smart ones anyway, and that’s Darwinism at its most basic.

  • mikego

    Isn’t the nearly the same premise as price or coupon matching that B&M stores have traditionally done in the past? E.g. I can use a Target coupon at Walmart.

    This type of sales practice has been going on for years.

  • telos104

    I’d expect such low-life drivel from a writer at The Stranger. B/M stores along with the other industries/companies that operate on business assumptions formed long ago, had better start waking up.

    • kazahani

      Waking up to what, exactly? Do you even know what the hell you’re talking about?

      • Matt

        Dude you just don’t get it do you? Times are changing and B&M better adapt fast.

  • wyngo

    It’s all about service, both morally and economically. In terms of morality, I wouldn’t feel bad scanning a box of cereal in the grocery store and buying it cheaper online, because the grocery store didn’t provide much service with respect to the cereal. I found it and made the decision myself. On the other hand, if the grocery store had a nutritionist who met with me for half an hour to help craft a specialized diet, I wouldn’t buy the cereal anywhere else.

    In economic terms, B&M stores can’t compete on price, so they have to compete on service. But now that apps like Price Checker exist, the service provided before a purchase isn’t good enough (unless you trust everyone’s morality). B&M stores have to provide better service AFTER a purchase, meaning better, more affordable and more PERSONAL handling of delivery, installation, returns and warranties. This is something I think they can do because they are already near you, they’ve met you and they have the opportunity to know you.

    • kazahani

      +1 because yes, they can do a better job.

      However, the consumer needs to understand that they will be paying a premium for it, and they need to support it.

  • SCJaredJ

    This whole sales tax thing is bull$h1t. Almost every state has laws about sales/use taxes that says something like: if you buy something from another state where you’re not obligated to pay sales tax, but use it primarily in our state, you have to claim it for use taxes (don’t believe me? go download a copy of your state income tax forms and you’ll probably see it — you know, it’s the section you probably laugh at and ignore when coming across it on the paper or in turbo tax/tax cut). The problem is the States never really enforced this, and have definitely dropped the ball since the internet exploded. Yo states, brick & mortars, how about you push for more enforcement of current laws instead of trying to screw over ecommerce with more useless, unnecessary overhead!

  • http://goncalossilva.com goncalossilva

    Love the expression “tax loophole” :D

    Oh, and awesome title is awesome.

  • eClipse

    Yes, because the only advantage internet retailers have is the lack of sales tax, and when the playing field is leveled, everyone will flock back to Circuit City.

    No tax is a nice to have, but is slowly creeping out of each state – mine requires at least an estimate each year claimed on your state income tax return.

    Hint: The unnecessary markup required for your uninformed upsell / spiff agents is the reason you can’t compete, that and because your shrinking market is the uninformed consumer.

  • jst4tim

    I hope to take full advantage of this over the weekend.

  • humidity

    I’m with Amazon. I believe they’d do this promotion even if we had to pay sales tax. Regardless of Amazon & sales tax, online shopping will almost always be cheaper than brick & mortar.

  • smisa27

    I do love shopping with Amazon. Especially because they have some amazing deals sometimes. And since they have this and it links to my online account and I could easily purchase them, what’s the reason now for going to a B&M store?

  • donger

    I think everyone does this one way or another. They go into stores and compare prices. If it’s something you need right away, you’ll most likely to buy it. If not, you’ll simply could order it online.

  • mclarensr

    Hasn’t this been a done in some way for a long time now? I have been doing this the only difference is, in the past before smartphones, I would go to the store write down the UPC and product details come home do my research and cost comparison and make my decision weather to buy in store on online.

    Rgd tax, I live in KY and I am taxed on all Amazon purchases.

  • Tamin

    I have been an Amazon Prime member for years. I do almost all of my shopping online, and love it. Perhaps it is ease of obtaining product information, and making comparisons for me. Standing in BestBuy, Target, or any other one it is nearly impossible to do research, and compare two or three items. The “Product Cards” are useless, and forget different options at different stores. The fact of the matter is we need the internet to do useful research so we can make informed buying decisions. However the selection at Amazon is much greater. Of course it is, they don’t have a limited amount of space to house products. So when I walk into a BestBuy, and see two options, and I have 10 on Amazon, really a lot of times it comes down to selection. Now if BestBuy is willing to “order” it for me, and ship it to me in 2 or 3 days free from a main warehouse somewhere, then prefect. The number one problem I haven’t seen anyone discuss in these comments is what happens when BestBuy closes up it’s doors like CompUSA,Circuit City, and many others. Then you have nowhere to see some of these products in person. You have nowhere to pickup a bare HD because your system died, nowhere to pickup a vga adapter for your mac before you big presentation in an hour. The question is, why does Apple succeed in mandating the retail price of their products, when no other company does? Why can’t Samsung mandate the price of the TV etc..

  • Darknight42020

    Can’t hold a company liable if it’s something you would be doing anyways. All they did was give you more incentive to do it. Compared to buying a new car vs. buying a same said car, but with free oil changes… I like free oil changes, don’t others?

  • phssthpok

    Like most areas there’s a middle ground here. B&M’s offer the ability to “experience” the product directly and sometimes the opportunity for an instant gratification buy. There’s a lot of stuff, say tv or speakers or clothes, I don’t want to buy based just on a review. That means some local store has to carry the item and devote space for me to see it as well as maintain a space I’d want to see it in. That costs more money than having things stowed away in warehouses. For me, that’s a valuable service worth some premium.

    Having said that, there’s a limit to that premium. Compare the cost of A/V or ethernet cable at your local big box to Amazon. I might pay a little extra to buy local, but I’m not going to pay 15-30x as much for a little plastic and a little copper. It’s a balance.

    The fact is if people don’t place much of a value on a local presence, it will go away. Personally I think that’s a bad thing.

    (BTW, I think Amazon is brilliant here. They’re basically paying thousands or millions of people to do pricing research for them. Brilliant!)

    • plasmoidia

      Exactly. I bought a TV and Bluray player over Black Friday. Prices in store were the same (TV) or actually better (Bluray player) than Amazon, not counting tax. I bought in store so I could take them home and not deal with shipping.

      But I bought my HDMI cables online. I got two cables for $10 shipped. Best price in store was at least $20 for one cable! And you could spend as much as $40-50 for one in store (not even an extra long one). That’s just ridiculous.

  • Zac H.

    I find it funny that B&M stores are complaining about dick moves when they’ve been trying to figure out how to wrest every cent they can and doing dick moves to do so for quite a while now. Bait and Switch is one tactic that comes to mind. Awww.. the consumer fights back and your panties are all in a bunch. Cry me a river.

  • tetracycloide

    “Amazon’s Price Check Promotion is hurting small business. I don’t think anyone can dispute that.”

    In the complete absence of any actual evidence to support this I can dispute it. One could just as easily argue that, by encouraging consumers to get out and go to local businesses, Amazon is helping local businesses large and small. If I’m already in the store I’m much more likely to buy something, after all, even if I end up buying something from amazon too.

    No one here has ever looked up something with a scanner (there were apps long before this one) and been surprised that the price they were seeing was competitive or even, gasp, lower? No one has ever seen the price difference was only a few bucks and though ‘I’ll save myself the hassle of waiting and just buy it now?’

  • Stacey Harris

    A prime example of this is a few months ago when Borders closed, I stopped by the closeout sale (final final closeout) and I scanned the books I wanted to pick up. Even at the ridiculous amounts of discounts I could get them for half the price at Amazon.

  • Jay Rocha

    I’m not very happy with Amazon since they cancelled my pre-order of the Transformer Prime. I quickly switched over to the list on Best Buy’s site. Hooray brick and mortar.

  • catfacepanda

    I think several people have some really good points on here. I, myself, prefer going into a store to purchase things. Ironically, I was in Best Buy looking at the Kindle Fire, and the sales guys were great. They were helpful, while also giving me the space and time I needed/wanted to play with the tablet, and yet they stayed close by so if I had questions I didn’t have to wander too far. They knew what they were talking about with all of the questions I had.That is the reason I would buy from a store, and I think that is the reason they can still compete, even with the things that Amazon is doing with its prices and its app. I would also simply not buy certain things online, especially electronics. I was also looking at a new graphics card for my computer, which I knew nothing about, and the sales guys in Best Buy were able to tell me everything I needed to know while recommending the best card for my computer and giving me the knowledge I needed to make a good purchase. I really would hate for everything to go online, because I guess I am just one of those people who enjoys being in the store.

  • sgumer

    this sucks for brick and mortar retailers. amazon is the wave of the future and not sure how long brick and mortar stores will last. even black friday products are online now.

      • i think it is a very rude thing to go to a store, get help from employes, try out the products you want to buy and then….
        pull out your phone and buy on amazon for $5 less :(

        no i dont work in retail but it is just not how it should work

        • You can’t honestly say you went and tried a product out somewhere then went and shopped around for a better deal……..

          When someones goes to buy a new car they might test drive 20 cars at 10 different dealers. They are only going to buy one car, so are you saying they should buy all 20 because they tried the car out and “wasted” a salesmens time?

          • ***say you haven’t went

          • CATFACEPANDAGuest 3 years ago

            I can understand LukeT’s point, but the car example isn’t really a good one. It’s not retail, for one thing. Amazon doesn’t sell cars, and I’m sure you know that but the idea behind this article is that it’s hurting businesses when customers come in to shop and then they get their customers lured away by an online retailer that actually point-blank suggests the customer price-check with their app and then buy the item through them.

            I personally also think it’s kind of rude to do this, but it depends on the customer’s intentions. If they are purposely walking into a store with the app in hand, ready to string along a sales associate but knowing they are going to pull out their Amazon price-check app and use that to earn a $5 discount through the online retailer, that is rude. I think that’s unfair to the sales person who is trying to earn a living and giving their time to help the customer.

            It’s understandable that a person might shop around at different car dealers, a car is not something you buy once every two years, like a phone or something. I think I would still think it was rude if Amazon actually did sell cars, and were telling customers to scan the barcode of the car and get $5 off for doing so.

        • I agree with LukeT on this. But I think that the move will drive competition and may not be as harmful to smaller retail stores as we think.

          The small mom n’ pop retail stores can rely on service and the fact that the customers can bring home the product right away to compete. These stores can, of course, also offer discounts to match Amazon’s price. But I don’t think they’ll really have to. People who go to the mom n’ pop retail stores nowadays know they’re supporting the local small businesses, they know what they pay may be a bit more expensive than they would otherwise at other stores. Perhaps only a minority of shoppers will actually go into a store like this and then use the price check to get a better price.

          If the shopper is actually looking for a deal, he/she will go to a bigger retail store, say Best Buy or Walmart, where the prices are more or less already competitive with Amazon. These bigger retail stores should also have no trouble in price matching Amazon’s price for those who use the price check app in their store. In other words, these bigger stores can take in the costs of price matches. If these stores do price match, then perhaps more shoppers will go to brick and mortar stores because they know they can get the item for the same price as Amazon but on the same day. In turn, then, Amazon’s price check app will actually drive more people to brick and mortar stores and cost lost sales to Amazon. This, again, assumes that the giant retailers do the price match to stay competitive.

          In all cases, I think Amazon’s move is natural and the consumers will end up benefiting the most.

    • So you’re saying that online purchases shouldn’t be subject to the same sales tax that B&M purchases are?

      • dmdhashwGuest 3 years ago

        I shouldn’t have to pay MN sales tax on something that was shipped from CA. It would be one thing if I paid the point of origin state’s sales tax, but what right does the destination state have on collecting any taxes from the sale?

        Should you pay a tax to your home state on items you bought on a trip to NYC?

        • Zac H.Guest 3 years ago

          Actually, yes. That’s the way the Tax law works. Even if you buy something in another county with a cheaper tax rate in the same state, you are supposed to pay the difference when you claim your taxes for that year. I don’t like it, but that’s the way it works, you pay taxes on all purchases for the state and county you live in. You’re also supposed to report any online tax free purchases as well.

        • tetracycloideGuest 3 years ago

          Reality is actually quite the opposite. The tax is on money spent by consumers, not on money earned by a business. The destination state, being the state the consumer is in, is the only state with a right to collect. Items purchased while out of state are not the same thing as buying something while in the sate from someone not in the state so that analogy does not hold.

          • ArKayGuest 3 years ago

            Zac H is right. It’s called Fair Use Tax and a few states have started to enforce it, even though it’s been on the books for a very, very long time. It really only applied when you went out of state to purchase vehicles and high ticket items (boats for example).

            With the rise of intrastate commerce by the internet, it has become an issue as the income a state would normally see by the commerce carried on in it’s state has moved to mail order/ internet sales. I’ll bet that would be where a great deal of the states who are having issue with their budgets have seen their normal tax revenue go to.

            Illinois has even included it on the tax forms as a standard line item entry as opposed to an optional worksheet to supplement the normal tax form. And explained it in simple terms to make folks aware of the law.

            That is why big ticket sellers, like car dealers report the sale and you pay tax based on the state / county you are a resident of. Automatically. Since you buy that vehicle while physically in another county/state the locale you reside it gets their cut because its being -used- in that locale. Hence the IL term Fair Use tax. The same tax code applies to items bought via Mail Order / Internet. It just has been ignored until recently.

            Tax law is long, entwined with all sorts of lawyer speak and designed to let everyone get a hand in on in income. But a quick look through some of the latest updates spell it out pretty clearly. At least here in IL.

            And as an aside – as part of a small business, the business is taxed on the money it makes as well. By having it’s assets taxed at the end of the year. Tax on it’s physical inventory and tax on it’s cash (i.e. it’s savings/checking/etc accounts). So saving the money means you lose it to taxes, spending the money investing into your business to grow it is taxed. Give it out as payroll – taxed even more. Give out bonuses to reduce your cash on hand ? Taxed at an even higher rate. It’s not just the purchaser who gets hit with the tax.

            Assuming the business isn’t choosing to somehow dodge paying those taxes aw well. But that’s a different thing entirely than this.

    • Indeed, that was win.

      …good article too. :p

  1. There is always hate somewhere.. We complain how we get robbed at the gas pump, cell phone service, etc, etc.. Its a circle

    • Amazon is pretty sneaky/genius though. Undercut AND use their B&M competitors to confer an advantage.

      Retailers duking it out = consumer WIN!

      • i have to agree as shady as it might seem its smart on their part… as soon as i read this article i could just hear my manager telling us over the radio that we “have to show these customers that we are more then a show case for amazon” now more then ever it seems.

  2. This works out perfectly for me to save $5 on a Google TV I was going to buy as a present!

  3. don’t cry, that’s life

  4. DonahueGuest 3 years ago

    Amazon is not hurting small business, Government taxes and regulations are

  5. In a small town where we are talking locally owned businesses this is a bit of a dick move but really this is directed at the big names; Walmart, Target, and Best Buy. Frankly they aren’t going to be hurt by the people who are doing this.

  6. Sorry brick and mortar. Lower your prices to compete and I’ll shop there. Till then, you’re nothing but a showcase to get hands on something I want.

    • Yep, I do this all the time. I went to best buy last night to play with dSLRs I was looking at, then ordered on Amazon.

    • To be fair, brick and mortar stores have more overhead costs and therefore need to cover them with higher product prices

      • Yeah, but they also don’t need to have stores that are like 2 miles apart from each other. They have some control, but definitely have more costs than Amazon.

        • Ha, that is true.. I live in a relatively small city so I guess I don’t see that here. I think B&M stores really need to push the fact that you can get your items right away and get tech support on the spot while still having competitive pricing.

          The products don’t have to be priced below what an online retailer sells them for, but they have to be priced just enough above that the extra cost is still within the perceived value of buying the product locally rather than wait for it to get shipped.

          • And work on their customer service (well, at least the larger stores). I know someone who will pay more because the store he shops at has customer service unparalleled to other people. He doesn’t mind paying extra for knowing if there is a problem they will get it resolved.

          • Exactly. Brick and mortar is good for the instant gratification. I think that the power is shifting from the big box retailers to the consumer. I can now go look at a car and know what the NADA value is before purchasing. Consumers have the advantage with the internet and its wealth of knowledge at thier fingertips.

            One of the first apps i downloaded on my G1 was the barcode scanner and a shopping app. I was one of the first people in my area to be scanning bar codes trying to find the best price. I find now that it has become commonplace to see people using their phone for the best shopping experience/deal.

          • you know something
            let it be and let it drawn competition!
            competition=cheap prices!!!
            :D

        • The thing people don’t realize is that sites like Amazon build profit into the shipping cost. B&M stores don’t dick you over on shipping, so paying $5 – $10 more is really like getting it for the same price.

          • EllettGuest 3 years ago

            Er, Amazon builds profit into free shipping?! Quite a trick!

            Been shopping at Amazon for many years and haven’t paid a penny for shipping yet, and yet the merchandise usually arrives in 3-4 days.

    • At the very least, B&M stores should stop being ridiculous about price matching. It’s maddening to be told by a sales rep that they can’t even price-match their own website.

    • And how are they supposed to do that? You think their prices are higher “just because?”

  7. B&M Retailers need to cry me a river. Instead of colluding to keep items at a nearly identical price in a specific area, Amazon is playing to the customer instead.

    If B&M Stores would learn from what online retailers are doing, instead of criticizing.. they may find themselves getting a larger % of the purchases.

  8. It is a dick move, but amazon did not become the superstore it is by not offending sensibilities, they’re not really doing anything but what they always have done… offer you a lower price.

    makes perfect sense from a business stand point.

  9. Awesome headline.

    Brick and Mortar businesses have to add value to their services to remain competitive, instead of crying about the advantages online resellers have. Brick and Mortar stores have a huge advantage in that potential customers can actually touch and try their products – they need to be more aggressive in capturing buyers who have reached that stage of their product search. Emphasize service, cut cost, and give buyers a compelling reason to choose you over an online reseller.

    • I agree with this completely, if customers are already going into a store to check out a product before they use this type of service, it’s up to the store to understand the sort of competition they face and make purchasing the product in store more appealing to the customer. You can’t really fault Amazon for wanting to gain business through means that are available to them, they’re trying to gain an edge, and that’s what brick and mortar stores are going to have to do, find an edge. As long as they compete, we win, but when businesses start to attack each other every time someone else has an edge, that could spell trouble for the consumer.

      • Agreed. Train the stupid employees that run the stores so that they’re actually knowledgeable and helpful, and then compete with sites like Amazon by pricematching them in store 110%.

        It’s all about the experience in store. Getting the customer in there, and the product in the hand is 80% of the work. Give them a good experience and competitive pricing/sales, and there will be absolutely nothing to complain about from anybody. ANYBODY!!

        • Fuck you. I run one of those stores, and I give my damnest every day of my life to earn a living for my family.

          It pisses me off to no end when a website undercuts me by $5 and now all of a sudden I have people unwilling to hear anything I say because I don’t have the lower price.

        • “Train the stupid employees…”

          Really? Try doing my job for a day, asshole.

          • davidGuest 3 years ago

            See? Amazon does not call us assholes…

            Instead of competing and finding innovative ways for selling stuff ;-), you call names.

            Sad. That’s why online stores are ruling.

  10. Competition sucks but I understand the tax issue. I have a better idea the fed and local gov can reduce taxes for all then it will not be an issue.
    Besides even if we had to pay tax not having to deal with out of stocks, dirty restrooms, rude customers and employees will continue to be a driving force behind on line purchases. Yes taxes or no taxes help but not the only reason.

    • I agree start with what you can fix b&m stores, look at your service, it’s one of the reasons I’ve switched to a lot of online shopping. I’m sick of feeling like I’ve bothered a store employee by walking in.

  11. Adapt or be left by the wayside. I rarely buy anything but groceries in B&M stores anymore. It’s so much more convenient for someone else to drive the crap to my door. I don’t have to go out in public and deal with idiot sales people or other customers. I also don’t have to be forced to listen to awful Christmas music blaring loudly in every store for 2 months straight. Online shopping FTW!

  12. love that line “But let’s face it; we’re all doing that already anyway.” so true. i wish congress would get their crap together and make the internet tax thing happen already so i don’t have to hear about it anymore. i’m all for leveling the playing field. only thing is, this wouldn’t be leveling it. Katherine Lugar would find a new reason to start whining about online stores. i feel bad for small businesses, but that’s the reality now.

    • Right. Amazon can already offer these products cheaper than brick and mortar stores, they also have the added benefit of not having to pay taxes. Even leveling the playing field isn’t leveling the playing field.

  13. I don’t know, I think retailers are crying over spilled milk. They’re pointing the blame at Amazon & this sale for their lack of business? As far as I know, every B&M has the power to start a website, and most already have. This sale seems like a scapegoat, I mean seriously, it’s $5. $5! On one product. If they want to compete (which retail is all about isn’t it? Competing with the people who are offering the same products?) Make their own online only sale where things are cheaper than the B&M or Amazon by like $7, throw in free shipping, and you’re competing with Amazon.

    Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me. I like to consider myself a consumer, and I’d rather go into a store and buy it, have a cashier put it in a bag, and me walk out with it. That’s just the way I am, old fashioned I guess.

    I agree, Amazon is slapping B&M’s in the face, but it’s hilarious. I feel no remorse since most B&M’s screw consumers over constantly. Amazon has it’s followers, as does Best Buy and everyone else.

    I guess this story just struck a nerve since retailers are acting as if this sale is going to put them out of business. Trying to make us feel sorry for them. Sorry, but the last people I’m going to feel sorry for, are the ones that many people I know, as well as myself are constantly giving money to for the things I want.

    Sorry I ranted. Blame nap time.

  14. Why the heck does this app not work for my LG G2x?
    It doesn’t appear on the market when I search within my phone.
    The browser on my PC displays the error: “This app is incompatible with your T-Mobile LGE LG-P999.”

    WHY?!?

    I want my $15…

  15. Every business does what they can to survive and sometimes flourish. I will agree that Amazon promoting people to go into the stores to view items and then turn around and buy on Amazon’s site is it bit low, but like Anthony said, we’re all already doing that. The one major drawback to online shopping is not being able to see, hold, test, or play with the item before you buy. Therefore, most of us will go to a store and check out the item before we buy online. Most of the items I buy online end up being cheaper than in a retail store even if tax was applied. Online shopping also has the perks that you can’t get a retail store like shopping in your underwear!

  16. Personally, I think this promo just brings more attention to the fact that you can order online at much better prices. Even if I had to pay taxes at checkout, (which I don’t hold against the local merchant I’m looking at prices for items to purchase), I know I have saved much more money.

    And there are times where if it’s really a “local” small business (local bookstore, comic shop,etc), I personally will give a certain amount of leeway (extra 15% on top of taxes) to cover for the price difference. But there are times where I can’t convince myself to spend almost double locally for some items. For example: I find a collector book at a local store for $100, but Amazon has it for $60, I can’t convince myself to buy it locally. But on the other hand, I will try to buy other smaller items locally instead, at the same place if possible.

  17. Dear Mr. Constant, please put me down as a f!@*%&@ %$!hole.

  18. I don’t think this is any worse than the match or beat it deals that stores have. I’ve seen some people go to a store find a good deal just do they could go to another store to beat it.

  19. Though I have used Amazon regularly for a lot of items that can be dificult to find in B&M stores and also at a reduced price. However, if I am at the store and I would be getting just a 5 dollar bump so after shipping costs its not gonna be a bonus IMO so I would just buy it at the store anyway.

  20. Let me get something straight. I don’t care about ‘main street’ or any other business that is going to cost ME more money. If Amazon can offer me the SAME products at a lower price and this causes ‘main street’ businesses to go out of business — I’m all for it. Maybe they will get smart and open a few warehouses and start shipping products at a lower price as well. Knock down the ‘main street’ store and build a park. My family and I will relax there and then hit up an ice cream shop with the money we saved. Keep up the good work Amazon and any other company that saves me and my family OUR hard earned money.

    BTW, I’m all for saving money as long as it isn’t affecting human rights (slave labor, child labor, etc…)

  21. it IS about the sales tax…this storm has been coming for a while and it needs to be addressed.

  22. I agree that customers are already doing that, I use my Google Goggles to check prices all the time, especially on larger purchases. I also try to support my local businesses when I can, I’m a lot more likely to use this sort of check at a big box retailer then the mom and pop boutique down the street.

  23. So brick and mortar stores are complaining about this? What do these stores make more profit over, a $2,000 TV or a $10 pair of crappy headphones?

    I only shop online if at least 1 of 2 things happen:
    1. The price is MUCH cheaper online, even with shipping added (when applicable).
    2. I’m buying an item over $500 and can potentially save at least $40 ($499=$540 with tax where I live); items like $10 CDs aren’t going to make me check online for the CD price, even if it is cheaper.

    So again, is Best Buy making more money off of selling a $2,000 TV or off of their cheaper, sub $100 products? My bet would be the small things which require a very small amount of sales tax.

  24. When I bought my car stereo, I knew more about the product and accessories than the sales person did at Best Buy. If Brick and Mortars want to compete, they also need to provide better service or convenience.

    • How many products does BB sell? 7,000? 8,000? You can’t expect every employee to know everything about every product.

      Amazon doesn’t even have anyone to help you pic out the products. You’re on your own.

      • You can’t expect a customer to pay more if they don’t get more. Amazon doesn’t have anyone helping you out, but it costs $5 (or whatever) less. If a B&M also doesn’t have someone to help out, why would one want to pay the higher price?

  25. Well that is bound to tick people off, but still I understand why Amazon is doing it and why it makes others mad. Still way to go Amazon, but I still don’t shop online very often, I like to see the product in person when I buy it.

  26. Another great way to save a buck or two! But what happens when all the little fish are eaten up by the big fish? No competition left, so then they can charge any price they make up.

  27. ZDNet did a clever write up involving the future of brick and mortar by what they think will be around 2021. It’s a good read and frankly is a future I hope comes to pass. Amazon’s business model really is a natural evolution of consumerism, and the sooner people accept that, the sooner we can get there and shop less, enjoy more, and do away with huge numbers of parking lots that aren’t helping the climate any: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/perlow/retail-in-2021-when-clicks-have-buried-bricks/19344.

    • Wait just a tick…

      Where the hell am I supposed to work if the store I run closes up??

      How about all my employees?

      Retail is over 20% of the American workforce. Don’t just doom us all to unemployment.

      • eClipseGuest 3 years ago

        See “escalation of commitment” in Wikipedia.

        Retail is big because it was the only model that worked. In olden times salesmen went from town to town with intricate models of furniture and machines, Those days are over, too.

        You’re not doomed to unemployment unless you are unwilling to change.

        • Exactly, thanks for your insight @eClipse. And @kazahani you need to chill the fuck out before someone reports you for abuse. I saw you flame others up above for their opinions, and I’m sorry if your business is not doing well and whatever other hardships you may be dealing with. This is a public forum though and there’s no reason to bash people because things aren’t going the way you planned. Grow up and adapt or do us all a favor and piss off. The market will adapt to the new business model and people will still keep their jobs, if just in a different capacity; the smart ones anyway, and that’s Darwinism at its most basic.

  28. Isn’t the nearly the same premise as price or coupon matching that B&M stores have traditionally done in the past? E.g. I can use a Target coupon at Walmart.

    This type of sales practice has been going on for years.

  29. telos104Guest 3 years ago

    I’d expect such low-life drivel from a writer at The Stranger. B/M stores along with the other industries/companies that operate on business assumptions formed long ago, had better start waking up.

  30. It’s all about service, both morally and economically. In terms of morality, I wouldn’t feel bad scanning a box of cereal in the grocery store and buying it cheaper online, because the grocery store didn’t provide much service with respect to the cereal. I found it and made the decision myself. On the other hand, if the grocery store had a nutritionist who met with me for half an hour to help craft a specialized diet, I wouldn’t buy the cereal anywhere else.

    In economic terms, B&M stores can’t compete on price, so they have to compete on service. But now that apps like Price Checker exist, the service provided before a purchase isn’t good enough (unless you trust everyone’s morality). B&M stores have to provide better service AFTER a purchase, meaning better, more affordable and more PERSONAL handling of delivery, installation, returns and warranties. This is something I think they can do because they are already near you, they’ve met you and they have the opportunity to know you.

    • +1 because yes, they can do a better job.

      However, the consumer needs to understand that they will be paying a premium for it, and they need to support it.

  31. This whole sales tax thing is bull$h1t. Almost every state has laws about sales/use taxes that says something like: if you buy something from another state where you’re not obligated to pay sales tax, but use it primarily in our state, you have to claim it for use taxes (don’t believe me? go download a copy of your state income tax forms and you’ll probably see it — you know, it’s the section you probably laugh at and ignore when coming across it on the paper or in turbo tax/tax cut). The problem is the States never really enforced this, and have definitely dropped the ball since the internet exploded. Yo states, brick & mortars, how about you push for more enforcement of current laws instead of trying to screw over ecommerce with more useless, unnecessary overhead!

  32. Love the expression “tax loophole” :D

    Oh, and awesome title is awesome.

  33. eClipseGuest 3 years ago

    Yes, because the only advantage internet retailers have is the lack of sales tax, and when the playing field is leveled, everyone will flock back to Circuit City.

    No tax is a nice to have, but is slowly creeping out of each state – mine requires at least an estimate each year claimed on your state income tax return.

    Hint: The unnecessary markup required for your uninformed upsell / spiff agents is the reason you can’t compete, that and because your shrinking market is the uninformed consumer.

  34. I hope to take full advantage of this over the weekend.

  35. I’m with Amazon. I believe they’d do this promotion even if we had to pay sales tax. Regardless of Amazon & sales tax, online shopping will almost always be cheaper than brick & mortar.

  36. I do love shopping with Amazon. Especially because they have some amazing deals sometimes. And since they have this and it links to my online account and I could easily purchase them, what’s the reason now for going to a B&M store?

  37. I think everyone does this one way or another. They go into stores and compare prices. If it’s something you need right away, you’ll most likely to buy it. If not, you’ll simply could order it online.

  38. Hasn’t this been a done in some way for a long time now? I have been doing this the only difference is, in the past before smartphones, I would go to the store write down the UPC and product details come home do my research and cost comparison and make my decision weather to buy in store on online.

    Rgd tax, I live in KY and I am taxed on all Amazon purchases.

  39. TaminGuest 3 years ago

    I have been an Amazon Prime member for years. I do almost all of my shopping online, and love it. Perhaps it is ease of obtaining product information, and making comparisons for me. Standing in BestBuy, Target, or any other one it is nearly impossible to do research, and compare two or three items. The “Product Cards” are useless, and forget different options at different stores. The fact of the matter is we need the internet to do useful research so we can make informed buying decisions. However the selection at Amazon is much greater. Of course it is, they don’t have a limited amount of space to house products. So when I walk into a BestBuy, and see two options, and I have 10 on Amazon, really a lot of times it comes down to selection. Now if BestBuy is willing to “order” it for me, and ship it to me in 2 or 3 days free from a main warehouse somewhere, then prefect. The number one problem I haven’t seen anyone discuss in these comments is what happens when BestBuy closes up it’s doors like CompUSA,Circuit City, and many others. Then you have nowhere to see some of these products in person. You have nowhere to pickup a bare HD because your system died, nowhere to pickup a vga adapter for your mac before you big presentation in an hour. The question is, why does Apple succeed in mandating the retail price of their products, when no other company does? Why can’t Samsung mandate the price of the TV etc..

  40. Can’t hold a company liable if it’s something you would be doing anyways. All they did was give you more incentive to do it. Compared to buying a new car vs. buying a same said car, but with free oil changes… I like free oil changes, don’t others?

  41. Like most areas there’s a middle ground here. B&M’s offer the ability to “experience” the product directly and sometimes the opportunity for an instant gratification buy. There’s a lot of stuff, say tv or speakers or clothes, I don’t want to buy based just on a review. That means some local store has to carry the item and devote space for me to see it as well as maintain a space I’d want to see it in. That costs more money than having things stowed away in warehouses. For me, that’s a valuable service worth some premium.

    Having said that, there’s a limit to that premium. Compare the cost of A/V or ethernet cable at your local big box to Amazon. I might pay a little extra to buy local, but I’m not going to pay 15-30x as much for a little plastic and a little copper. It’s a balance.

    The fact is if people don’t place much of a value on a local presence, it will go away. Personally I think that’s a bad thing.

    (BTW, I think Amazon is brilliant here. They’re basically paying thousands or millions of people to do pricing research for them. Brilliant!)

    • Exactly. I bought a TV and Bluray player over Black Friday. Prices in store were the same (TV) or actually better (Bluray player) than Amazon, not counting tax. I bought in store so I could take them home and not deal with shipping.

      But I bought my HDMI cables online. I got two cables for $10 shipped. Best price in store was at least $20 for one cable! And you could spend as much as $40-50 for one in store (not even an extra long one). That’s just ridiculous.

  42. Zac H.Guest 3 years ago

    I find it funny that B&M stores are complaining about dick moves when they’ve been trying to figure out how to wrest every cent they can and doing dick moves to do so for quite a while now. Bait and Switch is one tactic that comes to mind. Awww.. the consumer fights back and your panties are all in a bunch. Cry me a river.

  43. tetracycloideGuest 3 years ago

    “Amazon’s Price Check Promotion is hurting small business. I don’t think anyone can dispute that.”

    In the complete absence of any actual evidence to support this I can dispute it. One could just as easily argue that, by encouraging consumers to get out and go to local businesses, Amazon is helping local businesses large and small. If I’m already in the store I’m much more likely to buy something, after all, even if I end up buying something from amazon too.

    No one here has ever looked up something with a scanner (there were apps long before this one) and been surprised that the price they were seeing was competitive or even, gasp, lower? No one has ever seen the price difference was only a few bucks and though ‘I’ll save myself the hassle of waiting and just buy it now?’

  44. A prime example of this is a few months ago when Borders closed, I stopped by the closeout sale (final final closeout) and I scanned the books I wanted to pick up. Even at the ridiculous amounts of discounts I could get them for half the price at Amazon.

  45. I’m not very happy with Amazon since they cancelled my pre-order of the Transformer Prime. I quickly switched over to the list on Best Buy’s site. Hooray brick and mortar.

  46. catfacepandaGuest 3 years ago

    I think several people have some really good points on here. I, myself, prefer going into a store to purchase things. Ironically, I was in Best Buy looking at the Kindle Fire, and the sales guys were great. They were helpful, while also giving me the space and time I needed/wanted to play with the tablet, and yet they stayed close by so if I had questions I didn’t have to wander too far. They knew what they were talking about with all of the questions I had.That is the reason I would buy from a store, and I think that is the reason they can still compete, even with the things that Amazon is doing with its prices and its app. I would also simply not buy certain things online, especially electronics. I was also looking at a new graphics card for my computer, which I knew nothing about, and the sales guys in Best Buy were able to tell me everything I needed to know while recommending the best card for my computer and giving me the knowledge I needed to make a good purchase. I really would hate for everything to go online, because I guess I am just one of those people who enjoys being in the store.

  47. this sucks for brick and mortar retailers. amazon is the wave of the future and not sure how long brick and mortar stores will last. even black friday products are online now.