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Anti-price comparison patent filed by Amazon

21 June 2017 - 12:27 by Graham Miller

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A potentially problematic new patent filed by US retail giant, Amazon, might prevent mobile users from checking prices online when they are visiting one of its bricks and mortar outlets.

CNET reports that the patent covers the ability to manage the use of e-commerce services when people are in a specific real world store. This will specifically govern the free Wi-Fi which is offered at such locations, meaning that people who want to compare prices freely on their smartphones should stick to using a mobile data connection rather than a nearby hotspot.

This move is not only related to the fact that Amazon is opening a growing number of own-brand book shops, but also to its recent takeover of grocery chain Whole Foods.

Observers have pointed out that this is a complete change of tactics compared with Amazon’s earlier championing of m-commerce services designed to challenge the monopoly of traditional high street retailers over the marketplace.

It was one of the first firms to offer a dedicated mobile app which allows customers to carry out shopping online while on the move. It even has the ability to scan barcodes and make it even easier to see how much specific items cost online compared with their in-store prices.

It is worth noting that as with all patent filings, whether Amazon will actually choose to use the technology that this covers is still up for debate. And since savvy shoppers will be able to circumvent the block with ease, it seems like a fairly pointless step to take in any case.

Many experts argue that embracing multichannel retail is the only way forwards, rather than taking an approach which separates online and in-store experiences. Hopefully, Amazon will avoid alienating shoppers by following through on this patent’s potential.