Amazon Granted Patent to Prevent Online Price-Checking In-Store
Amazon.com has been granted a patent for a system that stops brick-and-mortar customers from comparing in-store prices to competitors’ online offerings. The patent, called "Physical store online shopping control," will enable the retailer to intercept network requests like URLs and search terms that happen on its in-store Wi-Fi. The patent details in great length how a retailer could use this information to its benefit. If, for example, a retailer sees that a shopper is trying to access a competitor’s website to price check an item, it could compare the requested content to what’s offered in-store and then send price comparison information or a coupon to the shopper's mobile device instead. Or it could suggest a complementary item, or even block content outright.
Total Retail's Take: OK, you all must be wondering why Amazon applied for this patent. After all, the retailer has constructed its vast empire by putting many a brick-and-mortar retailer out of business with its lower prices. The following possibilities may be in the offing: Amazon might decide to license this patent to brick-and- mortar retailers, or use the technology itself. After all, Amazon has already opened several brick-and-mortar stores, the latest one opening in New Jersey this week. And, of course, Amazon may well use the technology in its other businesses, which now include more than 460 Whole Foods stores. Lastly, Amazon could also just bury the technology. That way, nobody can apply the system against it.