Brick-and-mortar retailers have the opportunity to snag online shoppers in a new way—with a service called PriceLocal.
PriceLocal is a web browser extension that works with Chrome, Firefox and Safari browsers to search local stores for products sold on Amazon. The company launched nationally last week as a free service for both retailers and consumers.
Matt Chosid, a former Borders Books executive, founded PriceLocal in 2014 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
“The consumer adds PriceLocal to their browser and when they search for items on Amazon, they can click the PriceLocal button to request the item they want,” Chosid says.
“If a local store has it and is willing to match the Amazon Prime price, shoppers get a coupon for the item at the Amazon price, which they can print out or show on their phone.”
While working for Borders, Chosid saw firsthand how Amazon can hurt brick-and-mortar retailers, he says.
“Amazon is a juggernaut that impacts the ability of local retailers of all sizes to compete, while consumers have the perception that shopping locally will be more expensive,” Chosid says. “After Borders went out of business, I wanted to find a way to help brick-and-mortar retailers compete with Amazon.”
Consumers have gotten used to using online search engines, Amazon and other e-commerce websites to research products and make price comparisons while they are visiting a store. But they also do the reverse, researching from home and then going to a brick-and-mortar store to make purchases.
The giant in e-commerce, though, is still Amazon. Amazon grabs 44 percent of the online shoppers searching for particular items – a higher customer count than the number of people who look for products using Google, Yahoo and Bing combined, per a BloomReach study, he says.
PriceLocal directs those at-home shoppers to local stores that carry the products they were planning to buy online.
To avoid any confusion over comparing prices with and without shipping charges, PriceLocal works only with Amazon Prime products because customers don’t pay for shipping on those items. Neither retailers nor shoppers need to be members of Amazon Prime to use PriceLocal.
Testing the Service
Before launching the company nationally this month, Chosid worked with the brother-and-sister owners of Ace Barnes Hardware in Ann Arbor to test the service.
“I showed Eric and Bridgett Barnes the Amazon Prime prices on products they carry and they said they would be willing to consider matching on a case-by-case basis as requests were presented to them on the PriceLocal mobile phone app for retailers,” Chosid says.
Retailer and customer responses have been favorable, he says.
“PriceLocal is a win-win for shoppers and retailers,” he says. “Shoppers can find and get something right away at a fair price while supporting the local economy. And local retailers can level the playing field with Amazon by turning local online traffic into increased sales and foot traffic.”
Retailers have to sign up for the service to receive Amazon Prime price-match requests from local shoppers, who could become in-person customers.
“The consumer is doing a lot of research on Amazon and that consumer is right in your neighborhood,” Chosid says. “If a local retailer can get in front of the consumer, they can drive that traffic into the store and hopefully they’ll pick up a few extra items as well.”