Retailers beware – Showrooming 2.0 is upon us

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New Amazon Fire phones go on sale this week, and are available for pre-order now.  Normally a new phone wouldn’t provoke a blog post, but the technologies in this one (I predict) will cause a cascade of new developments that raise the bar with the entire industry – and that is something to notice.  Check out the brief introductory video here: Video


What makes this phone so interesting to watch?


It virtually eliminates typing.  The Firefly feature allows you to point your phone at almost any product in a store and buy it from Amazon in a few clicks.  I say “almost any” because Amazon states this works for 70 million products and 240 thousand movie and TV episodes.  The same feature allows users to point the phone at a picture, image, bar code, URL, QR code, phone number or listen to a song – and do the next logical thing:


Picture or bar code: see details, buy it (if it’s a product), add it to an Amazon wishlist

Image: see details, learn more

URL or QR Code: click to access the site in one tap on the screen

Phone number: call the number in one tap

Song: see the artist, buy it from Amazon, hear related songs, buy concert tickets


How many times have you been in a store and gotten tired of searching for a product online by typing multiple search terms into your smart phone?  This one is point and click.  Imagine a consumer visiting your store, finding the right product and buying it on the spot in two clicks from Amazon.  Sure, this happens today, but Firefly will make it far easier.  Anyone who owns a Kindle, Kindle Fire or Prime account knows how Amazon makes it easy to buy.


Have a question?  Tap the May-Day button for real-time support.  This is personal help that can show you how to do things (right on your phone), answered within 15 seconds.


On the marketing side, after writing about the shortcomings of QR codes (here), Firefly appears to skip over the need for them altogether, and make the promise of Google Goggles (app for visual recognition of objects) a reality.


Amazon is offering web and app developers its Software Development Kit (SDK) so others can build off of, and incorporate these technologies.  On on hand, this could help a new generation of showrooming apps grow faster because the user experience is superior.  On the other hand, it could be shunned by large retailers who develop their own apps.  This will be fascinating to watch.


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