Amazon may have patented the next big thing in online shopping | Quartz

There’s potentially another reason for Amazon to promote the use of video in e-commerce. It now has a way to offer customers discounts for watching ads. In October, Amazon was awarded a patent for “content-based price reductions and incentives.” The patent says that “customers in an electronic environment can be presented with the option to receive advertising, such as audio, video, or interactive content, in order to receive discounted pricing or similar benefits.”

One example of how Amazon sees this working is that a customer can watch a video ad on an item’s detail page, such as a product review. As the customer watches more of the ad, the displayed price for the item drops.
Depending on how strong Amazon’s patent is, no online retailer outside of Amazon’s ecosystem can offer this benefit to customers.

The background to this patent is informative as it helps explain how far reaching Amazon’s thinking could be, and how they plan to keep lowering prices for consumers. One major difference between e-commerce and in-store purchasing is that loss-leading—selling goods cheaper than what they cost—doesn’t work in e-commerce. When customers visit a physical store, they have invested their time to get there so stocking up on additional items is worth it. This doesn’t happen online. So this patent levels the playing field, allowing sellers to offer discounts to online customers based on their investment in time.

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Amazon may have patented the next big thing in online shopping — Quartz.