Amazon Service Allows Purchase Via Phone Text Message

Amazon yesterday unveiled a service called TextBuyIt that allows consumers to find and buy products from their mobile phones via text message.

Mobile users can find any product sold on the e-commerce site by texting the item’s name, search term, or UPC code to “AMAZON.” Within seconds, the company will reply with matching products and prices. Consumers make the purchase by responding to the text with a specially assigned single-digit product number, after which they’ll receive a call from an Amazon rep to confirm the order.

TextBuyIt becomes the latest mobile offering from Amazon, joining its general mobile site and mobile iPhone site, which launched this fall. Both allow users to browse and purchase items via their mobile handsets.

“With TextBuyIt, if you’re walking out of a concert and want to buy a CD from the artist you just saw, or if you’re at dinner and a friend tells you about a great book you should read, all you have to do is get out your mobile device, send a text message to Amazon, reply to the response, confirm your order, and your item will be on its way,” said Howard Gefen, director of Amazon mobile payments, in a statement. “It’s incredibly simple and convenient.”

The service represents yet another potential challenge to brick-and-mortar retailers from the Seattle-based Web giant. Because the service can be used anywhere a mobile signal is available, including inside stores, consumers could compare a store’s price with Amazon’s before making a purchase, putting further pressure on retailers to match the site’s often discounted prices.

Amazon isn’t the first to experiment with shopping via text message, however. Magazines such as “Lucky” and “CosmoGirl” last year partnered with a company called ShopText that lets consumers buy products they see in magazines by texting accompanying code numbers. And the practice has long been popular in Japan and Korea, where consumers can use their phones to buy a wide range of items.

A customers using TextBuyIt for the first time will be asked to supply her Zip code, and the items will be shipped to the address entered on her existing Amazon profile. If she doesn’t have one, she’ll have to supply that information over the phone.

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