Amazon Explores Buying Back Products; Wal-Mart, Best Buy Give Up On Used Video Games

Some major retailers have been debating whether the buying and selling of used merchandise (please shoot me if I ever say "pre-owned") is a business model worth pursuing. Wal-Mart and Best Buy, after pushing the idea for about six months, have surrendered plans to buy and sell used video games. But Amazon, always the more adventurous of E-tailers, thinks the idea has huge potential. A Financial Times of London story cited an Amazon ad for programmers: "As people upgrade to the latest and greatest there is a plethora of valuable, perfectly good products that need a new home. We help facilitate the pairing of new owner with device, while also creating an open marketplace."

What makes the Amazon concept so intriguing from an IT perspective are the CRM implications. Instead of tracking purchases to merely profile the customer, the new requirement is to also profile the products purchased. What is each product’s life expectancy? What is the optimal point to make an offer to a customer who might be starting to get bored with that product? How much of an upgrade can that consumer afford? Should the company start pitching new prospects based on a software projection of what already-sold merchandise will likely come back into play? And you thought Amazon needed a huge data warehouse before?