Amazon will soon be going from virtual stores to physical ones with the help of its Kindle tablets, if a recent report holds true.
The Wall Street Journal claims that the e-commerce giant plans to offer brick-and-mortar retailers and merchants a proprietary checkout system that would let them use a combination of a Kindle device and a credit-card reader (a la Square) to ring up consumer purchases. In other words, it’d be an Amazon cash register.
The WSJ writes that the whole system could launch “as soon as this summer,” and that Amazon is using resources recently acquired from point-of-sale (POS) startup GoPago to help move the project along. The report is careful to say that Amazon’s plans aren’t set in stone, and that things could change as time goes along.
If Amazon does stick with it, though, the company would theoretically be able to mine more accurate data about the shopping habits of customers in physical stores — where, the WSJ notes, 90% of U.S. retail commerce still takes place — and tailor the rest of its business and marketing strategy accordingly.
An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.
Yet if everything in the report is true, Amazon would be entering into an increasingly jumbled mobile payments market that has struggled to catch on with merchants nationwide. Tablet-based cash register systems of various types have already been implemented by some big retailers, including Nordstroms, the Harris Teeter supermarket chain, and Barneys, a trendy clothing store in New York City. Still, however, traditional checkout systems reign supreme in most brick-and-mortar stores, and the complexities and costs involved in weaning off of them may lead retailers to decide a switch isn’t worth it.
The fact that Amazon is already major competitor to their business doesn’t help the Bezos clan’s cause either — although the report states that the company would start off by offering its checkout system to smaller retailers, and offer special discounts and other incentives to try and entice larger stores from there.
Shortly after publication of the WSJ article, TechCrunch released a report saying that Amazon is also planning to build its own peer-to-peer (P2P) payment system, and that this could take on established solutions like PayPal. TC says that this would be cloud-based, and available on both mobile and desktop.
These reports should be taken with a pinch of salt for now, as anything can happen between now and the summer. But after declaring its hopes to launch delivery drones, “ship before you buy” package deliveries, and other out-there ideas, Amazon appears to be serious about expanding further out of the web browser and into the real world.
Source: Wall Street Journal