In a promotion due to go live in America on Saturday, Amazon has promised to reward customers who uses its mobile price comparison app, Price Check, to scan products in store but then buy them on Amazon instead.
It will give them $5 off each purchase, up to a total of $15.
Yes, that’s excellent, give people an incentive to use the product. It’s the next bit that needs a little tweaking (we’ll leave out the outraged protests from the owners of the bricks and mortar stores):
As well as boosting sales and getting customers into the habit of using its app, the promotion will help Amazon to gather valuable pricing information from its competitors.
“We scour online and in-store advertisements from other retailers, every day, year-round,” said Sam Hall, director of Amazon Mobile. “Now, we are enabling customers to use the Price Check app to share in-store prices while they search for the best deals.”
No, not quite, that last should more truthfully read “now we are enabling customers to collect in-store prices for us, for free.”
And that’s why it’s all such a clever idea. Because the cost of collecting this information has now been loaded onto the shoulders of Amazon’s customers instead of Amazon’s employees. Further, they’ll of course get vastly more information from millions of users than anything they could possibly have afforded to finance internally.
And this is one of the great games of the modern era. If you can get other people to create the inputs to your business, get other people to create your inputs and then give them to you for free, then you’ve just reduced to near zero one of the great costs of being in business: your inputs.