Amazon has been not-so-secretly trying to put brick-and-mortar stores out of business but now it looks like the company is planning to launch a charm offensive against its brick-and-mortar rivals. Unnamed sources tell The Wall Street Journal that Amazon “plans to offer brick-and-mortar retailers a checkout system that uses Kindle tablets as soon as this summer” that might involve giving the stores “Kindle tablets and credit-card readers” to use free of charge.
While this sounds nice, the Journal also points out that this is yet another way for Amazon to gather up more data on shoppers and to learn the habits of customers who still buy at least some of their goods in brick-and-mortar stores. The Journal says Amazon will probably pitch this system to smaller retailers since big-box retailers such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart “have extensive, complicated checkout systems that may be difficult or costly to give up.”
So what would these merchants get in exchange for helping one of their competitors gather more data on the customers they’re trying to steal? Apparently, “Amazon has considered allowing [brick-and-mortar stores] to offer promotions or discounts through Amazon.com or its Amazon Local daily deals offers,” the Journal says, while also noting that Amazon’s plans are still highly fluid and could even be cancelled.