While the outrage over Amazon.com’s price check app is understandable, retailers must know that it’s not unusual for consumers to use online sites as well as mobile devices to compare prices on all kinds of products. In fact, unlike the Amazon price check app—which does not compare book prices—the App Store is full of barcode scanning apps and all of them will find the lowest available book prices.
A brief look at the App store turned up scores of barcode reading price check apps, all of which compare prices on books. And since GPS location functionality is a part of just about every app these days, shoppers can very quickly find out just where they can find a cheaper product nearby. We tried out two free barcode readers: ShopAdviser and RedLaser. Using these apps we very quickly checked the pricing for the new trade paperback edition of Jay-Z’s Decoded ($25, Speigel & Grau).
ShopAdvisor pointed us to new ($16.50) and used ($15.22) copies of the book on Amazon. RedLaser gave us about 10 different retailers, from Amazon to Buy.com, Biblio and eBay, some with prices as low as $14.99.
That’s just two of many price comparison apps in the App Store. Amazon’s price check may be unnerving to booksellers, but to many consumers its just shopping as usual. Easy digital price comparison is the norm in today’s tech-enhanced consumer culture, whether consumers are buying books or flatscreen TVs. While the Codex study on “showrooming” documented a practice that retailers have complained about for a long time, digital price comparisons are here to stay.