Welcome to The CITE -- a blog on Course materials, Innovation, and Technology in Education, created by Mark Nelson and now part of the Publications Department of the National Association of College Stores. CITE is a pun with multiple meanings - referring to cite as in citation, something people reference; site as in location, website, or place people go to; and sight as in foresight or looking ahead to what is coming. Comments, discussion, feedback and ideas are welcome.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fire Is a Real threat to Retail

The Amazon Fire may be a remarkable advance in smartphone technology or an underwhelming device that costs too much, depending on which article you read. But Fire’s real value for Amazon is what the company does best: make Amazon indispensable to its users.

“The Amazon Fire phone exists so Amazon can showroom the world,” Sascha Segan wrote in PC Magazine. “It’s the hardware device for the Everything Store. And any actual store that competes with Amazon should be just a little afraid.”

There have been reports suggesting consumers are starting to shy away from showrooming in favor of webrooming, using their smartphones to learn about products that they later purchase in a store. The Firefly button on the new Fire could change that because it makes showrooming so much easier. A single click from the lock screen provides a user with information on the product in question and an easy path to the Amazon checkout page.

“Apple, Samsung, and AT&T can be Amazon’s suppliers, even though Apple and AT&T have successful retail arms,” Segan said. “But pure retail stores are just the enemy.”

That includes the college store industry. Just imagine a student walking in, pointing his Fire at a textbook and Amazon does the rest, making sure the student has plenty of options to rent or buy, along with suggestions on hoodies and dorm supplies that can be added to his or her cart.

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