A new patent allows Amazon’s in-store Wi-Fi to optimize customer service, block searches of competitors.New patent allows Amazon’s in-store Wi-Fi to optimize customer service, block searches of competitors.

Smartphones have worked their way into our everyday lives. Particularly while shopping, where nearly 60 percent of customers use smartphones for price comparisons.

An increasing number of retailers now offer free in-store Wi–Fi, and while most merely intend to optimize the customer’s in–store experience, Amazon is taking it a step further.

The online retailer was recently granted a U.S. patent for what they described as “Physical Store Online Shopping Control.”

Implications
The patent entails several actions Amazon can take. Among them is the retailer’s ability to block competitor websites, preventing price comparisons while customers use the retailer’s free in–store Wi–Fi.

Additionally, the patent allows Amazon to redirect the client’s online searches of competitor products to other content. Perhaps most surprisingly, the search can also notify an in–store Amazon employee of the customer’s activity, directing them to approach the client.

This patent is a massive opportunity as Amazon shifts more and more into brick–and–mortar retail.

Opting Out
It is important to acknowledge that using in–store Wi-Fi is optional.

Through this patent, Amazon’s ability to control the content explored on customers’ phones within their stores’ Wi-Fi network. But consumers can easily avoid this by simply opting out.

However, many customers use the free Wi–Fi offered by retailers because of their cell phone service company’s data usage limits. These shoppers will have to choose to either risk overage fees from their service provider or to adjust to the idea of a content controlled in-store Wi-Fi.

It all depends on how much customers value their privacy and right to search whatever they please, regardless of their location. Amazon’s patent will profoundly affect the way people navigate in-store Wi-Fi content and making any purchase.Amazon’s New Patent to Block In-Store Searches of Competitors Implementing the Patent
It remains to be seen if Amazon will use the patent. The online retailer is fiercely competitive and there are speculations that this patent was a defensive move on their part.

The patent itself is not just limited to the abilities mentioned above. Amazon’s patent also states that, “a wide variety of other information may be taken into consideration during the determination of a control action, such as a location of the consumer within the retailer location, a consumer value to the retailer, and/or price comparison information between the retailer and a competitive offering of an item.”

Not only are the possibilities are endless, but each customer’s experience will be tailored specifically to them.

It Was Bound to Happen
While the concept of in-store Wi-Fi is still relatively new, retailers now offer it as a standard amenity.

Sure, Amazon may be the first retailer to explore the competitive aspects of smartphones aiding customers in-store, they will not be the last.

Other retailers are bound to catch up to the lucrative idea, since customers provide such valuable data when opting to use a retailer’s in-store Wi-Fi.

For now, we can only speculate the patent’s potential to impact shopping experiences. The future of retail depends on two factors: whether or not Amazon will put it to practical use, and if customers are willing to use Amazon’s in-store Wi-Fi in lieu of having control of the content on their devices.

What remains clear is Amazon continuing to serve as an innovator and pioneer in both the tech and retailing industry.

The online retailer made itself into an empire through controversial ideas such as drone delivery.  

This patent is the next step in Amazon’s process of remaining an influential pioneer in retail. It is evident that when Amazon backs an idea, no matter how far-fetched it may seem, it usually winds up impacting the industry as a whole.