Borders Bookstores were the first national chain that went bankrupt due to the rock bottom prices that Amazon provided. Whether customers bought eBooks or physical books bookstore chains felt like they were basically a showroom showroom. Customers would often say “I can get this exact same book for 40% off and you guys only sell it for 30 percent off.” In order to combat the showroom mentality EX-Border employees have formed a new company called PriceLocal.
Local companies can now opt into the PriceLocal program to match prices found on Amazon. Users install a browser based extension and can browse Amazon deals the way they have always have. If they find something they like, they can access a drop down menu listing local companies that sell the same product. With a simple button click the companies are notified via email or text message. That’s when the owner chooses one of the four options of matching, denying the match, substituting for a similar product or ordering the product.
Former Borders attorney Matt Chosid is based near the former corporate headquarters in Ann Arbor Michigan. Twelve local companies have signed on to PriceLocal in a pilot test. A number of clothing, shoes, jewelry, pet supplies, homewares, hardware, sporting goods, and electronics and appliance stores have opted in.
One of the benefits of PriceLocal is the ability to have the product in your hand that very day. This saves on having to wait on something being delivered and have immediate gratification. “People are already doing their research online, and we could basically turn the idea of showrooming on its head where people do their browsing and research online and instead of researching in the store and buying online, they could research online and buy in local stores.”
There is a stigma in American culture where you can’t bargain for items at your local Best Buy or Macy’s. This gives Amazon an advantage where users can use a bar scanning app to find the best online deal. PriceLocal puts the power back into the hands of local businesses to be able to match specific prices for customers using this service. Giving the odd big deal really isn’t that bad for an indie business, certainly a better bet than giving lots of deals via Groupon.