Peter VanRysdam / Digital Marketing / April 2nd, 2008

Lookout, Retailers: Amazon Offer's SMS Price Quotes

We’ve all played the shopping game before.  You go to the store to figure out your size and then go home to save money buying on ebay.  Or you test out the latest mp3 player at the mall only to scour the internet for a better price.  There’s always an internal debate: is it worth the 5% savings to get it online?  Sure, it’s cheaper, but a bird is the hand is worth two backordered Web deals.

Well Amazon is taking on the part of the little devil on your shoulder now, and I expect it will do well to urge you online.  Check out this article from the AP:

Amazon launches text-message shopping
By JESSICA MINTZ, AP Technology Writer

SEATTLE – Amazon.com Inc.’s brick-and-mortar competitors have yet another reason to fear the Web: a new service that lets shoppers compare prices and buy things with a few quick taps on their cell phones.

Amazon TextBuyIt, which launched late Tuesday, lets people text the name of a product, its description or its UPC or ISBN to 262966 (that’s “Amazon” on the keypad) from anywhere their cell phones work — including from inside physical stores.

If Amazon stocks matching items, the service returns two results at a time. Shoppers can immediately buy one of the first two the selections by texting back the number “1” or “2,” or they can ask for more by texting the letter “M.”

New TextBuyIt customers will be prompted to enter the e-mail address associated with their existing Amazon account plus a shipping zip code. The service then calls them and walks through the checkout process using an automated voice system. Shoppers get confirmation by text message and e-mail.

From there, the customers can check on order status on Amazon’s Web site.

Howard Gefen, director of Amazon mobile payments, would not directly answer when asked if the service is meant to extend Amazon’s reach by poaching customers browsing at bookstores or big-box electronics retailers.

“We think this is a great experience. We think they’ll use the product…wherever they happen to be,” he said.

I don’t think this will be a huge mainstream thing, but for the tech savvy, this is great.  Not even so much the option to complete the sale, but more so just determining if you’re getting the best price. 

Yet another blur in the line between the Web and SMS.