Monday, June 19, 2017

Amazon has a patent to keep you from comparison shopping while you’re in its stores; Washington Post, June 16, 2017

rian Fung, Washington Post; Amazon has a patent to keep you from comparison shopping while you’re in its stores

"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. (Amazon chief executive Jeffrey P. Bezos is also the owner of The Washington Post.)...

As Amazon increasingly bridges the online-physical divide, regulators should be on the lookout for potentially anti-competitive behavior, said Jeffrey Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.
“Amazon knows younger consumers increasingly want home delivery of grocery products and online ordering. But there are huge privacy issues,” he said. “Amazon has created a largely stealth Big Data digital apparatus that has not gotten the scrutiny it requires.”

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