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Amazon introduce a new feature in their shopping app.

2014 Feb 11th 10:24 AM

Amazon has introduced a new component in its iPhone mobile shopping app called "Flow." It enables consumers to find and buy an item simply by holding their phone`s camera in front of what they want.

The "Flow" feature is the newest creation to get consumers to shell out more money online, primarily because it encourages "show rooming" -- browsing products in store but purchasing online. For consumers, it also makes price comparisons much easier because you don`t need to know the exact product or model or have a bar code to scan in order to look it up.

When iPhone users open the Amazon shopping app and hit "search", they can choose between the old option of scanning a bar code or using "Flow."

"Flow" understands products via their shape, size, colour, box text and overall appearance. When the consumer hits "Flow," the camera function opens and starts looking, in real time, for items based on what`s on the screen. While "Flow" works, there are little blue "Tinkerbell" stars flickering on the screen to show it`s looking.

If "Flow" locates the item, the consumer sees a product definition, price and a list of product details. There are also quick links to "Buy now," "Add to cart" and "Add to wish list." You can also see a full list of new and used items on Amazon. Or if you have an item you want to sell, you can use the "Sell on Amazon" feature.

Some flaws in the app are that is quite slow to search for your item. As Wired points out, speed is important because consumers have little patience for slow features. Delays can result in lost sales.

Another problem that some users experienced, according to Wired, is that Flow located items of a much larger volume than what they scanned, say, a 128-ounce bottle of Tabasco rather than the 5-ounce bottle they scanned. Developers say they`re trying to work out this minor flaw. (Although it sounds like a great trick to sell more stuff.)

You can also use Flow to scan a row of competing products and comparing their prices and Amazon ratings once they land in your queue, Wired reports.

The Flow feature, which looks in real time as you hold your camera up to the item (without taking an actual still photo or scan) is only available on the iPhone for now. There`s no information on when it might be added for Android.

However, Android users can receive a very similar outcome by using the "Snap it" function below the "search" menu. It works generally in the same way, although it requires the consumer to snap a photo that Amazon can use to search. The function was a little slower . The advantage of the Android version, where you snap a photo, is that you don`t have to keep holding up your phone to the item while it searches, which can be tiresome.

Flow appears to be the beginning of the type of feature we`ll be taking for granted in a few years, wondering how we ever show roomed without it. It could also benefit sellers as well as buyers, as if you are selling your product on Amazon, buyers will find it quicker if they are comparing it the product in the shop. If your product has a lower price than it, it is more than likely that you will get a sale!


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