Shop owners should not forget, that Amazon Remembers


I purchased some books on earlier today, and came across an advertisement for Amazon’s new iPhone ‘app’ (application, for dowload onto the iPhone), and what it calls “Amazon Remembers”.

In summary, what Amazon Remembers allows you to do is to take a photo of an object/product, and store it in your Amazon profile as a reminder for you to later purchase the object/product on Amazon (if Amazon sells it of course, but nowadays Amazon’s store offering (categories of products) is almost as broad as a department store in a large shopping mall, and usually deeper (with regards to the product offering in a category). It addresses the “I’d really like one of those – I wonder where I can get one” moments in life.

According to Amazon:

Use Amazon Remembers to create visual lists of things you want to remember whle out and about. Photos you take from the app are stored both on the Amazon App and the site as reminders.

If the item you want to remembers is a product, Amazon wil try to find an item for sale like the one in the photo. If we do, we’ll send you an email alert and post the result along with the original photo.

This is in fact a boon, and something that will replace a fail-prone memory to buy things on Amazon that I see while out shopping, but know that they will be cheaper on Amazon, and when I don’t have a pen and notepad handy to write myself a memo (and even if I do, I don’t have to worry about losing the memo). Now you can immediately buy from Amazon (even while standing in another shop, while looking at the product on the shelves).

This could be a possible nightmare for traditional ‘bricks-and-mortar’ shops – the internet boom already made a huge dent in sales made through bricks-and-mortar retail channels, especially for the smaller players.  This new ‘mobile purchasing’ option, combined with the ‘snap and search’ option to buy a copy of anything you see while walking with your phone, could cause another wave of pain for retailers, impacting also the larger players.  What will the retailers response be?  At the very least, consumers should benefit from closer price competition between online world and the real world.  Real world retail channels have one key benefit however, which might allow them to premium price over online sales – if you are standing in the shop looking at the product, you can buy it and take it home right there and then (no need to wait for the mail delivery).

The example picture shown in the Amazon Remembers app advertisement is a travel chair by Bubba.  I suspect however that this is not really what Amazon really has in mind, but actually the ability to find books, music, etc. that one sees while out shopping (in real, bricks-and-mortar shops).  I haven’t yet tested the app, but could imagine the app being integrated, if not now, at least later, with other apps that can find books by scanning the barcode or ISBN number on the book cover, or with midomi (another amazing piece of technology which finds music titles based on ‘listening’ to a short clip of music or even you humming or singing the song, or reading the lyrics and comparing to over 17 million songs held in its database – if you don’t believe me, try clicking on midomi and testing it on their website – it really is quite amazing …).

The app is clever in that even if Amazon doesn’t stock the exact same model/brand of chair that you took a photo of, it will offer you an alternative that Amazon does sell.  If Amazon find lots of pictures being taken for things they don’t stock, then they can simply broaden their product range to stock the specific product.

This shows also that Amazon has the potential to learn even more about its customers interests and spending patterns – what is it that they are interested in buying? which products are seen when by people who are ‘out and about’? etc..  I wonder if they can even read iPhone GPS data as to where the picture was taken and at what time (or would this be breaking privacy rights?).

One Response

  1. Hi Matt,
    A few words to add to your blog:
    1) the app isn’t available in Apple’s Germany store yet:(
    2) I’ve seen other iPhone apps having to ask whether they can use your location data so I’m presuming that this is a privacy policy that Apple insists on when vetting the apps.
    3) Midomi has an iPhone app that costs €4. A similar app called Shazam does the same for free.

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