A new online service called PriceLocal aims to level the playing field and let local retailers price match items and provide same day availability.
PriceLocal was developed by a former Borders executive, Matt Chosid, as way for smaller merchants to compete.
Consumers first need to add PriceLocal as a browser extension—it works with Chrome, Firefox or Safari—then search for a product on Amazon. A click of the PriceLocal button will send a price match request to local stores. If a match is found, shoppers get a coupon to redeem at the store.
The extension works only with Amazon Prime products, which have free shipping, and is free to both consumers and retailers. Retailers are required to sign up to get price match requests. PriceLocal plans to extend the program as a paid service to large national retailers, but local merchants can continue to participate for free, according to a company spokesperson.
"Amazon is a juggernaut that impacts the ability of local retailers of all sizes to compete, while consumers have the perception that shopping locally will be more expensive" Chosid said. "PriceLocal is a win-win for shoppers and retailers. Shoppers can find and get something right away at a fair price while supporting the local economy. And local retailers can level the playing field by turning local online traffic into increased sales and foot traffic."
There are quite a few steps involved, for both retailers and shoppers. But PriceLocal cites research from American Express that shows 93 percent of shoppers believe it's important to support local businesses.
Local and personal offers are growing trends in retail. "People are still trying to parse local into cities and regions, but local is becoming more and more granular…by neighborhood, zip code, down to the shelf in a specific store," said Rebecca Lieb, industry analyst for Altimeter Group, at Shop.org in October. "Local is what is driving shoppers right now."
There is also strong evidence to suggest that consumers increasingly use Amazon as a search tool for products, bypassing Google and other search engines to access product information and reviews. According to BloomReach, nearly half of all consumer product searches now originate on Amazon.
PriceLocal was tested last year in the company's local market of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and expanded last week to Minneapolis; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Austin, Texas.
-See this BloomReach report
-See this PriceLocal announcement
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