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Brief Published: 31 Jan 2014

Google: Ride to the Shops


Google may offer web shoppers a free ride to stores in the future, according to a patent awarded earlier this month to the US tech giant by the US Patent and Trademark Office.

The high-tech marketing system would use an algorithm that looks at a shopper’s browsing activity to identify their location and propensity to buy. Based on this information, it would then offer the customer a free journey to the retailer’s nearest bricks and mortar store to make the purchase.

“Getting a potential customer to a business location in order to conduct a sale may be one of the most difficult tasks for a business or advertiser,” reads the patent.

The invention involves automatically comparing the cost of transportation and the potential profit from a completed transaction using a number of real-time calculations. The algorithm would consider factors such as the user’s current location, their possible route to the retailer, potential forms of transport and the customer’s daily agenda.

It would also allow retailers to extend the offer to customers it believes will bring in the highest revenue – for example, a theme-park owner may target a shopper with a young family.

This kind of predictive analytics is a burgeoning area of retail technology – with big potential. Earlier this month, news broke that American e-commerce giant Amazon has patented a process for “anticipatory package shipping” that promises to slash product delivery times.

For more future-facing ways to help customer and product collide, take a look at the Industry Trend Anywhere Retailing.