Is Amazon the New Walmart (in the 'Evil Empire' Sense)?

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Retailers have been fearing Amazon.com's (AMZN) growing power for years. Now the e-tailer is just rubbing it in.

In a potentially ill-advised move to promote its updated comparison-shopping app, Amazon offered a Dec. 10 deal to folks who whipped out their smartphones as they shop.

People who fired up Amazon's Price Check app at a bricks-and-mortar store could scan an item and submit the price the shop was charging. More often than not, the app will reply that it can be had at a cheaper price. However, on Dec. 10 Amazon made things interesting by offering customers an additional 5% off (up to $5) on up to three qualifying items.

In other words, Amazon was providing a financial incentive to folks to discover how out-of-touch retail pricing can be at some stores.

Of course Amazon is going to be cheaper than a mom-and-pop shop. There's no need to taunt local merchants by flaunting the fact. And in response to this tactless move, an "occupy Amazon" rallying cry is starting to gain steam. In one fell swoop, Amazon has made itself the new Walmart (WMT).

Promotion in Motion

It's a shrewd tactic on paper, even if wasn't entirely necessary. Folks downloading Amazon's app are already fully aware of the online giant's pricing advantages. When you can scale a Web business with lean overhead and grow it on razor-thin margins, you'll even give retailing monolith Walmart a run for its money.

"We'll use your feedback to keep prices competitive for all customers," the app promises. Critics, meanwhile, claim that Amazon's actual intent is to encourage its customers to become a network of spies picking at the carcasses of fading real-world chains.

Again, that also isn't necessary. Amazon is fully aware of what its rivals are charging for stuff. Prices are readily available online, and there are plenty of comparison shopping sites and programs that are doing all of the spy work that Amazon needs to keep its prices competitive. Amazon is just trying to make consumers believe they're making a difference, when all the e-tailer wants to accomplish with the app is convince you you'd be crazy if you pay more elsewhere.

Bullying Cry

These are vulnerable times for Amazon. The company is trying to battle legislation in a number of state's that seeks to force Amazon and its online peers to begin collecting state sales tax, even if the Web-based retailer doesn't have the required physical presence in the state.

Publicly encouraging shoppers to compare Amazon's prices to those of local merchants that have no choice but to collect state sales tax isn't going to sit too well with politicos trying to defend their homegrown proprietors. The move also paints Amazon as a bully.

Sound familiar? It should.

Both Amazon and Walmart use low prices to stretch our buying power, but they're both cast as indie-snuffing behemoths. This episode isn't going to help Amazon's image on that score.

Longtime Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any stocks in this article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walmart Stores and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Amazon.com and Walmart Stores. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a diagonal call position in Walmart Stores.




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27 Comments

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thomas_paul

What's better than 5% off? #10bucksoff. Get this when you shop through taap.it from local vendors. #occupayamazon

December 21 2011 at 2:27 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Anell

Satan CONJURES U NYC PIGG

Along with 49 states and the World SHORTING PIGG

NYC GETS NUKED

December 20 2011 at 9:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gym

Hi,
I be Gym Kramir. Just having my morning coffee before TV and wiping off some of that anell mustard left on my lips and tongue from yesterday.
The United States was built on Sovereignty.
And a Sovereignty with the Kingdom of Jesus Christ our Creator.
Whats wrong Wall Alley PIGG today?
Are U worried?
Worried about the building U R in or The Street U R on?
Did U not want to take the Markets Down? It’s Early.
No matter. Satan comes for his Bride to take her DOWN with him.
And he has a RING. A very special RING.
If shorting were discontinued, 90% of all Hedge Funds WOULD B GONE.
Do U sit there idly Russia and China while the NYC Wall Alley launders the world?
Do U sit while the PIGGS hang their SINKER on the Worlds investments?
America did not sit idly or wait for U to fight terrorism in Iraq?
Did they?

December 20 2011 at 9:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gym

Whatz wrong Wall Alley PIGGS?
Have trouble keeping it UP?
Satan keeps it UP 4 U.
What U need is:
Anell Mustard.
Lotz ov it.
aND then
Satan drives his anal trident INTO HIS Bride.
Satan LUVS U NYC
Merry Christmas

December 20 2011 at 9:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gym

Do U like it America and the World the way these NYC phux and punks
Along with the SEC and FED Reserve launder our savings and investments?
NYC will B Beirut.
COUNT DOWN
PIGG TIME 2
Today Wall Alley PIGG and Regulator criminal PIGGS as U turn on that shorting machine;
Anal Trident 333 is ON ITS WAY PIGGS.
U dare play against Good Mans portfolios and cost basis U ******** worthless financial PIGGS.
Satan has a PEARL necklace for his NYC Bride and their PIGG children.
Satan LUVS U and blesses U NYC La Cosa Nostra laundering PIGGS.
NYC GETS NUKED

December 20 2011 at 9:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gym

Hi,
My name is NYC and I have analtholimia.
I cannot help myself.
That anal trident ride is SOOOOOOOOO High and SOOOOOOO much pleasure.
I want MORE and MORE.
I WANT 333.
Satans Anal Trident 333.
The BIGG one.
Please.


NYC CALLS 4 IT.

December 20 2011 at 9:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gym

America sits and waits

For the ANYC PIGG 2 B NUKED

Hi,
Happie Holidaze.
Time for fun stuff in End Times 2011, 201x, 201.
Jingle, Jingle, Jingle, Jingle
I am NUKE; The NYC PIGG or U can interpret that as
“NUKE the NYC PIGG”;
I wear a Mushroom Shaped Cap and am single like hydrogen.
This is also the name of the Reverends New X Box Video Game.
NUKE THE NYC PIGG
Every one gets to pop Wall Alley Financial PIGGS with all kinds of arms, and right at their desk, even in the back of their heads. Kapowi. Special Guests that U can bomb at different levels are the Brokerages BEE-TrADEd, Furdirtery, Wells Please GO Far Far Away And many more 4U. U can CALL Satan on the PIGGS or PUT them in your favorite place like gerbel hell. Yes. Gerbels can be placed for points on TOP of Satan’s anal trident. When U place Satan’s anal trident in the GAME U get more points with a Wall Alley PIGG gerbel on top of it and a thick anell mustard glaze. All available at Satan’s bagel stand. Plenty of SEX 2 between Red Plague Congress, the wall alley Piggs, the SEC and FED Reserve Bernadette. Yes, Satan works hard to keep that anal trident polished because they ALL ride so HARD and roughen it up and down and back and forth UNTIL they scream with JoyOUS pleasure upon receipt of the spew of Satan being shot down their throats as they ask 4 More and More and More. Can it Shake quake and topple buildings U ask? Of course, we aim to please. Abrams Tanks, F/A-18’s, NAVY ships, Bunker Busters for the Bigger Buildings of the Wall Alley Pigg are all well Wall Alley PIGG emulated and in High Definition PIGG Video for your enjoyment. U can invite in North Korea, Iran, China and Russia 2 play 2 and the game gets real crazy. All the action takes place while Homeland Insecurity tries to get as far away as they can from the powder keg and vacation in Bing A Ding.
It’s a real great game and AC SHUN packed.
U can pop Bernadette at the FED Reserve and Whatz her name at the SEC. U can apply anal tridents 2 them ALL DAY LONG. U can BET AGAINST the PIGGS 2 and SHORT away their SOULS.
For experts, it takes not LONG to NUKE The NYC PIGG.
No, it takes the actions of SHORTY at the OpeRators printer at the SEC and FED Reserve PIGG Pen.
And finally, u can bless off 1 or 2 of your favorite wall alley piggs by the Kingdom of Jesus Christ at THE END of the game, so U can save some 4 the next game; if Satan & his Legion LETS U play again.
Bye: The Reverend JAA (just another *******) – Your End Time Specialist
The Worlds #1 PIGG Denigrator and Denigrator of 2 legged PIGGS
U can write to us at nukethenycpigg@yahoo.com for dates when the software will be released. The Reverend has the patent.
Then U can send us $1,000,000.00, wells please go far far away, because that’s what U owe us for your extortion practices PIGG.
The Mayans knew it & Edgar KC 2.
1000% Correcto.

December 20 2011 at 9:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Marc Telesha

For about 7 years or so I can take a picture of a bar code with my smart phone and shop online for the best price 24/7. So Amazon just said if you do that you get a coupon. How is this different?

December 19 2011 at 10:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dugan6415

This article is about a week overdue, isn't it? I guess big daddy AOLTimeWarner doesn't keep tabs on every little cubical warrior anymore. Oh wait, we're supposed to hate "big" corporations, and forget huge ones exist?

December 19 2011 at 7:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John

Amazon rocked this season for my Holiday online shopping. They handled two separate orders placed several days apart and had them to me before any of the other retailers. Heads up !

December 19 2011 at 7:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply