Amazon's TextBuyIt Service Not Likely To Make Them A Lot Of Retail Friends

Amazon.com on Wednesday rolled out a new service called TextBuyIt, which allows consumers to comparison shop online working solely with fast text messages.

But the move may not sit well with other retailers, who could see this making it easier to find better deals elsewhere, especially in bookstores.

The service can also support Web searches—but that's hardly new—and is being positioned by Amazon as an easier way for consumers to make Amazon purchases. The transactions can be almost solely done via text, with an old-fashioned phonecall used to verify the purchase.

An Amazon statement describes the process: "Simply send a text message to 'Amazon' (262966) with the name of the product, search term or a UPC or ISBN code, and, within seconds, Amazon replies with the product or products that match the search, along with prices. To buy an item, customers simply reply to the text message by entering the unique single digit number next to the item they want. Customers will then receive a short phone call from Amazon with the final details of their order and asking them to confirm or cancel the purchase."

The first time consumers try and use the service, it will ask for the already-registered E-mail address and Zip code associated with the consumer's Amazon.com account. It then uses default settings for payment, shipping address and shipping speed.

The concept makes sense. Mobile E-Commerce purchases have not gone very far because few sites are effectively designed for mobile and the response time can be so slow. By opting for text messaging, Amazon might be able to sidestep those issues.

The next step would be for consumers to take that Amazon data and then plug it into a shopbot in their browser and do a true price comparison. Somehow, that may not be what Amazon has in mind.

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