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.


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.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here