How Amazon Turned a Mobile Phone into a Cash Register

While there were numerous reports of Amazon being one of the few retailers who were positive this holiday season. One of the things that was didn’t receive a tremendous amount of press was the release of Amazon’s iPhone application. This program harnessed the power of the mobile platform, turning a mobile phone into a portable cash register, allowing customers to make purchases to make purchases when it was convient for them, without the hassle of black friday shopping woes.The amazon App for the iPhone has all of the features you would want in a mobile shopping platform, it allows you to search, shop, add or buy from wishlists, and even check on open or recent orders. However where the program really excels is it allows you to use any stored credit card, and shopping preferences from the Amazon website to complete your transaction without having to enter them everytime. It even allows you to use amazon prime.

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That’s a difference that I can’t stress the importance of, here’s a screen shot of an item from the Target Mobile shopping app:

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Compare this to the same item in the Amazon App

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The price is $24.99 at Amazon versus $29.99 at target.  Because I’m an amazon prime customer I get 2 day free shipping. If buy from the amazon app, I don’t have to shop on target.com, worry about the shopping cart breaking on my mobile phone, fill out the forms, enter my credit card info, and hope any of the other things that break during a shopping experience happen. This is really a key point and I can’t stress it enough, Amazon removed all of the friction from a mobile shopping experience, making it as pain free as possible.

Here’s a really neat feature that has a lot of potential, the application also makes use of your camera, you take a picture send it to them and they try to identify it.

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You take the photo and usually within 5 minutes you get an email letting you know if they were able to identify your item or not. Also the app lights up with the number of matches:

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I’ve tried about 50 items and have gotten about a 90% match rate. I’ve found that if it’s not common item it sometimes help taking a picture of the bar code. I can then buy directly from the amazon app

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This has tremendous potential, you can comparative price shop in a physical store, and if Amazon has a better deal have the item shipped without having to schlep it home. You can purchase an item a friend shows you, or you see while you are doing your daily errands. As more and more devices come equipped with cameras, the potential becomes huge. Personally I’m looking forward to using it make my weekly shopping list and save a trip to the grocery store, but currently most of the food items amazon sells are only available in bulk packages.

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