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Amazon taps mobile for Black Friday, Cyber Monday deals

The Seattle-based retailer will let consumers shop and buy by text this Thanksgiving weekend, further proving that mobile is becoming an ideal companion to direct channels such as ecommerce, telephone and the catalog.

“I think SMS is what everyone’s using right now,” said Marci Troutman, founder of Siteminis Inc., a Marietta, GA-based mobile commerce specialist.

“I don’t think it’s the future of mobile commerce, but I think everybody understands SMS text,” she said. “It’s a good solution in the interim.”

Shoppers can text COMPARE to the short code AMAZON (262966) with the product name. Amazon will respond with a text message listing the Amazon price.

So, say, a consumer texts AMAZON printers, the retailer replies with this text message, “Get the Amazon price in seconds. Reply to this message with item name, author/artist, ISBN/UPC code OR visit“.

Once the consumers texts those details, they can reply-to-buy with the text command BUY.

Consumers can also follow the link in the text message to the Amazon mobile site to see the product detail page. They can shop for other products and deals directly from their mobile phone.

Amazon didn’t return a call for comment by press time.

The Amazon deals for Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving when retailers typically turn a profit — and Cyber Monday, Dec. 1 — positioned by trade lobby as the Black Friday for ecommerce — span products including laptops, televisions, GPS items, MP3 music, apparel, watches and earrings, among thousands of items.

Amazon is also running a $10,000 Shopping Spree in the Black Friday Sweepstakes. The sweepstakes expires 11:59 p.m. PST on Nov. 30.

Amazon’s effort to complement mobile commerce with ecommerce is something that Ms. Troutman understands from her past life as a senior Home Depot ecommerce executive.

“The promise of mobile commerce is that it’s going to work on your mobile the way it does on your PC, but in the mobile format,” Ms. Troutman said.

Gold box for big box
Amazon recently launched its Amazon Text Alerts program to promote its Gold Box deals that are highly popular on its wired Web site.

Consumers can opt in by texting GB to AMAZON to get the Gold Box Deal of the Day. They can also enter their mobile number on Amazon and opt in. Standard rates apply.

Spelling these advantages out, the headline on the Amazon wired site says, “Get Gold Box deals every day with Amazon Text Alerts.”

Copy below then enumerates the key advantage: “Today’s Deals wherever you go.”

In the callouts, Amazon emphasizes that consumers who sign up with Amazon Text Alerts will get new deals delivered daily to their mobile phone.

In addition, consumers can see the discounts and buy immediately from their mobile phone.

Mobile shoppers will use the same shipping and payment methods as they use on, including the Amazon Prime shipping program.

Amazon’s decision to push deals through the mobile channel may run the risk of burdening mobile commerce with the same fate as ecommerce — an expectation that the channel will offer better and cheaper deals than stores or catalog.

However, Ms. Troutman doesn’t think that scenario will play out with mobile commerce.

“Shoppers understand that it’s a comparison tool they can use in the aisles,” Ms. Troutman said.

“I think that mobile commerce will get use more practically,” she said. “If you’re on your PC or Max, you’re landlocked. The mobile’s going to make the transition of that better, allowing comparison shopping.

“It’ll certainly help keep retailers on their toes.”