Amazon Goes with ‘Flow’ to Challenge Brick-and-Mortar Retailers (Feb. 13, 2014)
Amazon last week updated its iOS shopping app with a new feature called Flow, which could add rocket fuel to the “showrooming” phenomenon already affecting brick-and-mortar retailers. Consumers may use Flow with the iPhone’s camera to locate items at hand—whether around the house or on retailers’ store shelves. Each item a consumer captures with the camera—if it’s sold on Amazon—is automatically added to a shopping list that can be used for immediate purchase via the app, or to create a wish list for future purchase. Amazon plans to make the feature available across all devices, a spokesperson for the company tells Paybefore. “The feedback so far has been excellent,” she adds.
Combined with Amazon’s Pay with Amazon checkout feature announced earlier this year that stores consumers’ payment credentials for simplified online purchases, analysts say Flow has the potential to further heighten consumer connectivity and disrupt existing retail shopping processes. Though mobile payments are still a long way from gaining critical mass, how various key players position themselves now is becoming increasingly crucial for the future, according to analysts at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, who published a report this month analyzing various new technical innovations in e-commerce and mobile payments.
Amazon joins a jam-packed field of digital wallets also offering one-click checkout options for digital commerce, where PayPal has a head start and Visa’s V.me and MasterCard’s MasterPass quickly are making inroads with merchants around the world. While merchants may be wary of using the mobile POS services of a direct rival like Amazon, KBW notes the Seattle-based online shopping giant has the second-largest user base in the world, estimated at about 220 million, behind Apple’s base of more than 575 million enrolled users. “Similar to Apple, Amazon’s large user base presents a formidable advantage that should not be underestimated,” KBW concluded.