Applies to its physical bricks and mortar stores.
Amazon filed a patent on May 30 to block shoppers in its physical bricks and mortar stores from comparison shopping when they shop there.
Considering that comparison shopping is what Amazon have been helping consumers do just that since the day it launched back in 1994, the news also comes with an extremely heavy sense of irony. Quite worryingly, consumers in Amazon owned stores may no longer be able to view better prices online at other stores, if the patent is approved.
Ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
As well as blocking comparison shopping, the patent filed by Amazon would also allow the company track its customers in store potentially steering them to certain products in direct response to their phone activity.
The patent clearly lays out how Amazon would use the technology stating: that the e-commerce giant could disrupt competitors web pages, stating that in “the event that requested content is determined to be associated with or potentially associated with a competitor or an item of interest….[and if Amazon doesn’t like what it witnesses]…, “information may be blocked” or the customer “may be redirected to other content”. I don’t know about you, but that sounds quite like an invasion of privacy.
Like rain on your wedding day
Amazon, though clearly think the idea has legs. The patent, aptly titled “Physical store online shopping control,” sets out the details of a system that would prevent customers from comparing prices in Amazon stores by watching the online activity conducted over its Wi-Fi network. So, it seems that as long as users don’t use Amazon’s in store Wi-Fi they wont be blocked.
Amazon has increased its diversification in recent years from being a mainly online retailer into In the last year into more traditional bricks and mortar stores. Earlier this months, the company also completed a $13.7 billion acquisition of American grocery store chain Whole Foods.
Time will tell
But that said, if Amazon does have its patent approved, it doesn’t mean that it will use or enforce it in its stores. It just means that they will have the option to use it at some point way off in the future. The system itself may never be rolled out at all.
I hope it isn’t, but time will tell.
And finally, if you’re in the mood for a little a bit of 90’s pop culture reference…