Amazon Patents Shopper-Control Technology

The Washington Post: “Amazon was awarded a patent May 30 that could help it choke off a common issue faced by many physical stores: Customers’ use of smartphones to compare prices even as they walk around a shop. The phenomenon, often known as mobile ‘window shopping,’ has contributed to a worrisome decline for traditional retailers.”

“But Amazon now has the technology to prevent that type of behavior when customers enter any of its physical stores and log onto the WiFi networks there. Titled ‘Physical Store Online Shopping Control,’ Amazon’s patent describes a system that can identify a customer’s Internet traffic and sense when the smartphone user is trying to access a competitor’s website.”

“When that happens, Amazon may take one of several actions. It may block access to the competitor’s site, preventing customers from viewing comparable products from rivals. It might redirect the customer to Amazon’s own site or to other, Amazon-approved sites. It might notify an Amazon salesperson to approach the customer. Or it might send the customer’s smartphone a text message, coupon or other information designed to lure the person back into Amazon’s orbit.”


One thought on “Amazon Patents Shopper-Control Technology”

  1. This is terrifyingly monopolistic. It’s akin to the 19th Century practice of “the company store” that provided the only source of merchandise for a business’s employees, giving them no choice regarding selection or price.

    What’s particularly ironic is that “showrooming” (the actual name of the practice) has been used to Amazon’s advantage in the past. It let consumers check in-store prices, compare them to online (including Amazon’s), and decide which retailer to patronize.

    On the plus side, consumers are free to avoid Amazon’s in-store WiFi network. To avoid being limited to Amazon’s own selection and pricing, it would make sense for them to do so.

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