Amazon’s phone could have a serious impact on retail marketers

Amazon’s long-awaited phone is here and it pushes Amazon even further (if that’s possible) into retail by extending its presence in the physical world.

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The device’s Firefly software is able to identify QR codes, web addresses, phone numbers, songs, movies and books from a database of 100 million products via a “shopping” button on the side of the phone. Amazon claims the tech will find products on its site within seconds.

The majority of bricks and mortar retailers are still petrified of showrooming and doing anything they can to combat it. This just makes going into a physical store, spotting an item you like and then buying it from Amazon even easier than it already is.

It will also make it much simpler for consumers to conduct price comparisons between Amazon and physical retailers. No more time-consuming searching for the right item on Amazon. It’ll be as simple as holding up your phone and tapping a button.

At the moment the use cases for this are small – Amazon is limited to objects it can identify, such as books, or products with a QR code. However, its only going to expand that database over time. Soon it could be TVs, computers and your favourite brand of shampoo that you can find at the click of a button on Amazon.

The key of course will be getting this device in consumers’ hands and it isn’t clear that Amazon has a hit on its hands. With just a month until launch there is as yet no sign of a marketing campaign and that $649 price tag is high in a competitive smartphone market increasingly focused on price.

It also has pretty limited distribution, with the phone only available with AT&T in the US. The Fire has the ability to seriously impact retail by promoting showrooming and online price comparisons still further. But only if people actually buy it.

Yet that doesn’t mean retailers shouldn’t be paying attention. This phone is a sign of more to come from Amazon. It might not be Amazon’s big play into the smartphone market but it will be a hugely useful shopping tool that will give Amazon further data insights on what its customers are doing offline.

With a lot of retailers still reticent to implement in-store marketing technology, whether it is Wi-Fi access or beacons, Amazon is getting a head start into the physical world. We all know how well that went for retailers in ecommerce.

The best retailers will use this as an excuse to boost their digital presence and experiment in ways to marry in-store and online marketing to counter Amazon. The Fire phone could have a serious impact, but only if retail marketers sit idly by and let it.

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