Smartphones have become such a central part of our existence: more than two-thirds of all Americans have one, and they have rapidly become the most popular way to access the internet and do some online shopping. For a long time, we’ve had just a few platforms to consider: Apple’s iPhone, Windows Phone, and Android based phones. Now there’s a new player in town: Amazon’s Fire phone.
Amazon has been in the hardware business for a while now. What began with the humble Kindle reader has grown into a full suite of e-readers and tablet computers. The move to a smartphone isn’t about competing with Apple and Android devices, according to Michelle Maisto at eWeek. She writes that while the Fire has some neat navigation features, it’s only offering fairly typical smartphone functionality – with one major exception: the Firefly technology that allows users to snap a picture of a product, QR or bar code, web address or phone number and instantly find the products affiliated with that image on Amazon.com.
The implications for the retail world are potentially very profound. Show rooming is already a very big problem for independent retailers. Multiple apps have been developed to allow shoppers to comparison shop from their smartphones: if they find a lower price online than you’re offering in your brick and mortar location, there’s a good chance you’ll lose the sale. Firefly – which includes the Amazon Prime benefit of free two-day delivery – makes instant gratification even easier.
Every retailer on the planet needs an Amazon strategy. There are multiple ways to think about this. One school of thought is the “If you can’t beat them, join them!” in which retailers make some or all of their offerings available via Amazon’s sales portal. There are, obviously, costs associated with this choice, but should the Fire prove to be a popular smartphone, being included in Firefly search results could certainly drive sales.
Another avenue is to embrace the experiential model of retail, in which the merchandise, service, and ambiance of your store are so compelling that customers will seek them out deliberately, even if the prices you charge are higher than those found on Amazon. This is a labor-intensive, long-term strategy, but it has worked well for some brands.
A third route is a hybrid approach, which combines an Amazon presence with an optimized in-store experience. This allows you to take advantage of the new reach the Fire phone will offer while keeping your focus on your current brand building efforts.
Which avenue is right for you?
That’s actually not a simple question. Deciding what’s best for your business requires looking at your current situation, your plans for growth, and your existing digital infrastructure. Adding an Amazon presence to your marketing mix can increase sales, but you also need to be strategic in order not to dilute your brand’s presence. Need help figuring out what you should do? Give us a call. We’ll help you discover all of your options and choose the one that’s right for you.