Just in Time, Amazon Patents Method to Prevent In-store Comparison Shopping
Amazon is perfecting a different kind of business model than we’ve traditionally known. First, crush an industry by focusing on growth instead of profit. Then, swoop in to “fix” the industry that was destroyed. Now that the online retailer is moving into the brick and mortar world, it’s trying to prevent the in-store price comparisons that have served it so well against competitors.
Following the announcement of Amazon’s massive bid to buy the Whole Foods grocery chain, the Washington Post reports that the company has patented an algorithm that’s designed to discourage “mobile window shopping.” Customers’ habit of visiting stores like Borders and checking the Amazon prices while they browse is understood to have played a major factor in Amazon’s competitive victories over the last decade, so it’s beginning to take measures to ensure that it doesn’t suffer the same fate.
The algorithm isn’t going to prevent a dedicated customer from checking out other retailers on their phones... for now. All it does is make it more difficult for any shoppers who are on the store’s wifi. The “Physical Store Online Shopping Control” patent analyzes the mobile browsing of the customer and if it determines that they are visiting a competitor’s website it will redirect them in one of a few ways. From the report:
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.This isn’t a five-alarm fire warning of impending dystopia but it should give everyone pause at a crucial moment in Amazon’s history....MORE