It now has a patent that could block customers on in-store wifi networks from checking out competitors’ prices
The world’s most famous internet retailer is afraid of the competition.
Shopping giant Amazon has recently received a patent that would allows brick-and-mortar retailers to prevent shoppers on their in-house wifi networks from “showrooming,” or checking out products in their stores before comparing prices online. The patent, called “Physical Store Online Control,” allows a retailer to redirect URLs so that a price comparison search query is blocked. Alternatively, the store can send users to an in-network page that may offer a coupon or a curated price comparison list. There is no immediate indication of how, or even if, Amazon might employ the patent.
Of course, the Seattle online behemoth has been a major beneficiary of easy online price comparison, which traditional brick-and-mortar stores famously loathe. Indeed, competitors like Walmart and Best Buy have had to cut prices to ward off Amazon’s entry into what seems like every major shopping category.
As such, some have commented that the irony is rich in Amazon’s move to patent such an internet control mechanism. But in some ways it makes sense: While the Seattle online behemoth filed for the patent in 2012, its approval comes as Amazon is rapidly growing its own network of brick-and-mortar stores. Last month, it opened its first books boutique in New York, America’s literary capital. There are at least four more on the way: in Chicago, midtown Manhattan, New Jersey and Seattle. Earlier this year, Amazon also opened its first grocery pick-up store in Seattle.
News of the patent was previously reported by the Verge.
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