It’s one thing to be a low-cost convenient alternative for that hard-to-find book and it’s another to actively employ an army of drones to undermine local stores. As Gawker rage-reports today, Amazon is offering users discounts if they go into a local store, scan a certain item’s price, then go home and buy the same thing on Amazon. For Amazon, it’s a way to track their competitors; for Gawker (and us), it reeks of Big Brother snitching that encourages you to “sell out the merchants who pump sales taxes into their localities,” all for a sad $5 discount. Sure, we’re probably more emotional about our bookeries here than much of America, but there’s something creepy about this, right?
Bookseller Jarek Steele notes that Amazon is breaking two rules of business: Never make your customer work harder than you and never make your customer feel stupid. You and your smartphone are cheap labor, Steele writes, which drops the price of the product and therefore devalues the work of the author, or whatever you’re buying.
“Amazon wants you to negotiate on their behalf because you’re cheap labor,” he writes. “Nobody wants to work for slave wages, least of all the authors you love.”
Out-maneuvering competitors by using sheer hulking price intimidation is what turned Walmart evil in the first place, right? And they didn’t even have smartphone users yet!
What do you think? Is it a worthwhile discount strategy or is there more at stake here?