What's more frantic than the holiday shopping rush? The shopping frenzy that follows it.
That’s when shoppers take to the malls, big box retailers and other local outlets in hopes of finding deals amidst all that merchandise that didn’t sell in time for Christmas.
There’s a new service called PriceLocal that might be a valuable tool for those who want to shop close to home. It promises to find you Amazon-level prices from your area stores.
The company was founded in 2014 by Matt Chosid, who spent 13 years as an in-house attorney at Borders Group, the now defunct Ann Arbor, Mich.-based international book and music retailer. Chosid claims a lot of things contributed to Borders' demise, but the convenience and low prices on the Internet expedited that process.
In fact, he maintains, "We were the first company that was truly attacked by Amazon."
How It Works
PriceLocal, Chosid said, can level the playing field. Consumers first install a browser extension that’s at the ready when they find something worth buying.
For example, if they’re shopping Amazon they can click the new extension's button when they find an item they want to buy locally. Then wait for a local store to issue a coupon for the item at the Amazon price.
PriceLocal launched nationally in November, but you’ll have to see what the availability is in your home market.
Stores that sign up to participate receive a text when someone in their area is looking for a particular item they might stock. The store can then decide to match the Amazon price with that product or a similar item.
Fighting Back Against Showrooming
The idea is to challenge showrooming — the practice of exploring products in a physical storefront, but buying them through an online retailer like Amazon.
Amazon, clearly a shopping behemoth, also makes it easy to comparison shop with a scanning tool in its mobile app that will instantly detail the Amazon price by barcode. Quite frequently it’s lower, which means a lost sale for the local retailer.
This phenomenon places local stores at a disadvantage when it comes to competing against Amazon, which can operate at lower profit margins and devote additional resources to fast shipping and other perks.
However, PriceLocal could swing a little more control back in the direction of physical stores.
Though it will definitely take some time to determine if stores can maintain a good profit margin by matching prices from Amazon and others.
And consumers could get impatient if there’s a particular item they want, but it’s not in stock in one of the stores close to where they live. If that happens too often, they’ll probably just click over to Amazon instead.
Even if people want to support local efforts, sometimes convenience wins out.
Title image by Christelle Bourgeois