Fear the Phone: Amazon Fire Phone Will Drive Amazon’s Mcommerce

Aug 03, 2014 3:49 PM  By

Amazon, Amazon.com, amazon prime, Amazon Marketplace, Amazon effect, ecommerce, ecommerce platforms, ecommerce news, mobile, Mobile Commerce, mcommerce, mobile customers, smartphone, smartphones, amazon fire, Amazon Firefly, retailers, retail, online retail, online retailer, retail newsAmazon conspiracy theorists… you’re probably right about Jeff Bezos’s motive for entering the smartphone race.

In a day when your smartphone needs to do everything possible but, well, have the ability to make a phone call (who does that these days?), the Amazon Fire Phone clearly is a device to drive its users to buy more from Amazon.

UserTesting set out to answer one question: Could Amazon’s Firefly be an experiment? In other words, is Amazon using the Fire Phone to learn more about how to turn the entire world into an Amazon store? To find out, UserTesting put together a panel of 50+ people and had them set up the Fire Phone for the first time.

One of UserTesting’s questions had to do with the Firefly feature, a visual search app that can be used to drive Fire Phone users to make a purchase at Amazon.com. Here’s a video that better explains how it works:

The study showed that testers really love Firefly and want to use it again and again – 84% chose Firefly as their first or second favorite Fire Phone feature and, on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being easiest, 70% ranked it a 4 or 5 for ease-of-use.

But the testers did not like Firefly enough to buy the Fire Phone – more than half of participants said they would keep their phone and not buy the Fire Phone.

UserTesting reports that the Firefly feature didn’t work for every product tested. But when it did, users said they thought Firefly was useful. Users got it to work easily with objects with clear, recognizable logos (Post-It Notes), but it struggled with other things (back of an Illy coffee can). Users said they can see the value of the product, especially once the database is even more robust.

Meanwhile, it doesn’t seem like retailers are ready to sell to customers who use the Amazon Fire Phone. According to this study by Yottaa, a cloud-based acceleration platform that drives user engagement to increase business impact across online and mobile channels, just 1 out of 5 ecommerce sites render correctly on the Amazon Fire Phone.

Amazon is going to have to find a way to get smartphone users to switch to the Fire Phone. Right now, Amazon is offering a free year of Amazon Prime with purchase – but is that enough to get consumers to plunk a minimum of $199 down to switch devices, especially if they are comfortable with their current phone and operating system?

Maybe Amazon’s best bet is to give the Fire Phone away, especially if its motive is to drive Amazon.com sales. If it does get the Fire Phone in more customers’ hands, it could spell victory for Amazon’s mcommerce sales.

Tim Parry is Managing Editor of Multichannel Merchant. Follow Tim on Twitter and Google+, and get LinkedIn with him, too. Tim’s email is tparry@accessintel.com.