Amazon joins Smartphone Credit Card Reader race with Amazon Local Register

Amazon began as a “bookstore killer” when they offered low-price books shipped straight to your door, but it wasn’t long before they branched out to selling other products. In order to ensure they could offer the biggest variety of products they developed the “Amazon Marketplace” to allow small businesses to sell their products through the Amazon infrastructure. This new feature was essentially the “eBay Killer” and gave small businesses (selling as individuals on a per-item fee basis or as businesses for a monthly fee) a way to expand their reach and have a trusted platform to connect them to new customers. Amazon isn’t intending on stopping there though. In an interesting move, they have now announced a card reader and app that will give them a physical presence in storefronts with the “Amazon Local Register”.

Offering low introductory per-transaction rates, the Amazon card reader competes directly with Square, Paypal, and all of the smaller card reader and merchant register services that have been on the market (some since as early as 2010). It is a bit of a surprise that they should be going after small businesses like this, as they’ve always been known as an online-only merchant, but perhaps they were losing Marketplace providers and just need a way to pull small businesses away from the other merchant readers and get them back and cozy in the Amazon Services family.

On one hand, having a card reader with the “Amazon” brand offers a trustworthy solution for customers that may be wary of giving their credit card to a small business owner, but on the other hand, Amazon is essentially doing its own market research by pulling in all the trends and statistics from all of the businesses that use their device. Will it be worth it for small businesses to chain themselves to the Amazon giant and give away important sales data?

Having the Amazon logo in the window or by the register is a strong way to build local confidence in your business and pull in customers that may not have taken notice of you before. In a time of increased identity theft and credit card fraud, using a familiar check-out process like Amazon may be a solution that can immediately elevate small businesses from unknown to automatically trusted. Then it is only a few more steps before new businesses are turning to the Amazon Marketplace and selling online through them, instead of looking for other online ecommerce solutions. Once in Amazon, it’s hard to find a way out.


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