What do most of us do when we see something we like in a brick-and-mortar store? We check prices online to see if the product can be purchased from an online retailer at a lower price. Amazon has thrived off of this behavior for a very long time but as the company makes its entry into the brick-and-mortar business, it has patented a method to discourage in-store shoppers from checking prices online.

Amazon has announced its intention to acquire Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. The company runs 400 retail locations across the United States, so Amazon will effectively have 400 distribution points for its products once the acquisition is closed.

The Washington Post reports that Amazon has patented an algorithm which has been developed to discourage shoppers from “mobile window shopping.” That’s what the company is calling customer behavior which involves checking products at a retail store and then trying to find a better price online.

If a store customer is connected to that store’s Wi-Fi, the algorithm detailed in Amazon’s Physical Store Online Shopping Control patent will determine whether the user is visiting a competitor’s website.

It may then block access to the competitor’s website, prevent customers from viewing comparable products or may redirect the customer to Amazon’s own website or any Amazon-approved sites. An Amazon salesperson might be notified to approach that particular customer or it might entice the customer to complete their purchase in the store by offering them a coupon or promotion.

Obviously, this algorithm won’t be able to do much if the user is browsing the competitor’s website using mobile data. It remains to be seen whether Amazon puts something like this in place once the Whole Foods deal is closed.

Filed in General. Read more about Amazon.

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