Amazon has opened a physical store in Seattle. The gimmick is that there are no prices. You log into your Amazon with your smartphone and then it shows your the price.
There is a great bit in Michael Crichton’s ‘Rising Sun’ where it is said that the Japanese corporations think in very long timelines and that will give them am unbeatable competitive edge over clueless Americans. Well, Crichton was wrong about Japan, but he wasn’t wrong about how some large institutions play a -really- long game.
This Amazon Store concept frightens me because it could be a harbinger of a world where price competition goes away. People may not be old enough to remember, but there was a time not too long ago where lots of items had ‘variable pricing’; like buying a car. You never knew if you were getting a good deal because every price was ‘negotiated’.
I believe that Amazon is ‘Priming’ people for a world that is so ‘frictionless’ (ie. so easy to purchase) that they won’t bother comparison shopping anymore and Amazon will give everyone different prices according to what their ‘metadata’. In other words, the highest price their algorithms decide the buyer is willing to pay without question. Seattle is a great test case for this since there are so many affluent people who frankly don’t care about low prices anymore.
Right now these stores seem silly–a bit like the Apple Watch. But I believe Amazon[...]