Recently, the massive e-retailer has been granted a patent that will stop a shopper from comparing prices of an item in-store to one online. Typically, when shopping online, 44% of consumers start their search with a search engine, which is a helpful way to read online reviews and comparison shop for cheaper items.
However, this patent won’t allow price comparisons with online retailers anymore. Instead, the patent will notice when online shoppers are in a store and look online for comparable, albeit cheaper, items and then intercept them as a way to entice the shopper to buy in person instead of online.
How it works is simple. The patent, known as Physical Store Online Shopping Control, is a mechanism where the retailer will intercept network requests that happen on its in-store Wi-Fi, and then each retailer will be able to handle these requests however they choose. For example, if someone is in an electronics store and searches online for a smartphone at a cheaper price, the electronic store’s Wi-Fi can intercept this request, then either offer the customer a coupon or block the search altogether in efforts to keep the customer in-store.
Additionally, Amazon’s patent will be able to locate exactly where the customer is in the store using a triangulated system based off of wireless access points. This is then helpful for the store clerks so they can go and speak to the customer in person in hopes of securing a sale.
According to Business Insider, Amazon believes that even though this patent can potentially take business away from their company, it’s an important way for retailers to stay afloat in a world that is becoming ever-reliant on online shopping.
Amazon’s patent explains:
“[A] negative scenario may exist for a physical store retailer when a consumer evaluates items at the physical store, leverages physical store sales representatives, and then reviews pricing information online in order to purchase the same item from an online retailer.The physical store retailer pays for floor space, sales representative time, product inventory management, and other costs while not being able to complete a sales transaction.”
While the patent was filed in 2012, it was only recently approved. However, there is no word on when the patent will go live and be used nationwide.