Amazon TextBuyIt: Strategic and Impressive at First Glance

Shoppers started using mobile in brick and mortar stores a long time ago: Phone calls (and SMS) to collaborate with a significant other on a purchase; snapping a photo and sending it to a friend via MMS to ask “how does this look?”; running a web browser to check Amazon for reviews or pricing on a book you’re thumbing through at Borders.

In fact, that last case is the one I most often describe to clients as a way that your business will be changed by mobile even if you don’t yet think mobile applies to you. Just as bookstores who understood the Internet shift did well by changing the way they positioned themselves to compete (whether or not that included any online services), they’ll now have to re-position to take advantage of the mobile shift. How will your business (re-)position itself to be a succesful part of the changes brought by mobile rather than a casualty of them?

Starting today, Amazon is accelerating the mobile shift for retailers by launching a new shortcode text messaging service making it easier for more customers to quickly check pricing and place orders from any cell phone (not just smart phones with browsers).

Text an item name (or UPC or ISBN) to AMAZON (262966). You’ll get back text messages with matching items and pricing. You can even place an order by sending a text choosing the item you want (smartly combines with an IVR call to your phone so that you don’t have endless back and forth, and presumably the second order from your handset will be even smoother). It’s integrated with your regular account, so you use your email

This is fantastic for when a friend tells you about a book you should read, when you remember an item to order, or when you’re at a retail store and want to decide whether to pick it up here or buy from No more adding it to your to-do list of endless things you should think about when you get back to your desk.

Smart offering taking advantage of the shift to mobile lifestyles and integrating well with the desktop web:

  • service to the customer providing information they can use anywhere
  • making yourself available to receive orders in any format the customer prefers

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