Amazon Inc. plans to offer brick-and-mortar retailers a checkout system that uses Kindle tablets as soon as this summer.
In one scenario, the Seattle company would give merchants Kindle tablets and credit-card readers. Amazon also might offer retailers other services, such as website development and data analysis.
To accelerate the project, Amazon last year purchased technology and hired engineers from a startup that offered checkout systems linked to a smartphone app.
Amazon’s plans remain fluid and the project might be delayed altered or canceled.
The project would thrust Amazon, the largest U.S. e-commerce merchant, into the realm of physical retail stores, where more than 90 percent of commerce is still conducted, and open up a new trove of data from consumers’ in-store spending habits.
Because many of the largest physical retailers have extensive, complicated checkout systems that may be difficult or costly to give up, Amazon is likely to focus on smaller retailers.
Amazon would bring strengths and weaknesses to the payment fray. It holds credit-card information from more than 230 million users, exceeding PayPal’s 142.6 million. But Amazon has virtually no experience in brick-and-mortar retailing and merchants might be wary of doing business, and sharing customer data, with a competitor.
“The game of mobile payments is going to be won or lost at the physical checkout, that’s where nearly all of commerce is done today,” said Richard Crone, chief executive of Crone Consulting, a payments advisory firm.
To draw in merchants, Amazon has considered allowing them to offer promotions or discounts through Amazon.com or its Amazon Local daily deals offers. Amazon also might seek to create a so-called mobile wallet with stored credit-card information to help speed payments.
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