Quietly filed patent by Shopify shows it is moving closer to brick-and-mortar retail with a type of technology Amazon is also using

Shopify already offers a point of sale device for merchants.
  • Shopify has applied for a patent for a sensor system that can measure traffic in retail stores.
  • The app reflects a growing interest in physical retail.
  • Amazon’s Go stores also rely on sensors to power their payment technology.

Shopify has filed for a patent that reflects its growing interest in in-person retail as its rivalry with Amazon intensifies.

The patent application, filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office on May 25, 2020 and published on November 25, 2021, describes a system of sensors that could measure the density and behavior of buyers in specific areas of a retail store.

The idea is that measuring traffic density could help a store owner determine what it’s worth to display products on particular shelves or in specific areas of the store.

In many physical locations such as grocery stores or convenience stores, manufacturers pay “slot fees” or “slot allocations” to display their products in a store. But, as the patent application notes, not all locations in a store receive the same level of customer attention.

“From the perspective of a trader who wants to buy (or rent) display space in a retail store, not all areas of the retail store are equally desirable,” the patent application states. “Advantageously, traffic density can provide a quantitative, accurate and unbiased metric with which to determine a value associated with the display of products in a region. ”

Measurements from sensors could include the number of people entering a part of the store in a given amount of time, the average time they spend in that part of the store, or the number of shoppers interacting with physical products on a given time. period specific period.

Spotify filed the patent application with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office and the European Patent Office. He is currently on hold. A Shopify representative did not return Insider’s request for comment on the patent application.

Shopify patent application photo shows sensors detecting in-store shoppers
An image from the patent application shows how the sensors could collect data points from shoppers at a retail store.

The patent application describes display space management technology as a potential service offered to Shopify merchants.

Shopify is best known for its e-commerce storefront platform, but it has a set of services that allow customers to combine their offline and online offerings. All Shopify plans come with POS Lite, including mobile and hardware point-of-sale accessories. Its POS Pro offering, which comes standard with Shopify Plus plans, includes enhanced features like online shopping, in-store pickup capabilities, and inventory management tools.

Omnichannel retail has become a bigger talking point when calling for business results, especially as Shopify’s growth slowed in 2021 after hitting records in 2020 amid the lockdowns linked to the pandemic.

Shopify's patent application shows sensors on store shelves
An image of the patent application shows different locations on a store shelf.

Amazon’s Go stores also rely on sensors to power their “just on foot” payment technology. Amazon was reduce the cost of this technology because it seeks to have more impact in the retail of brick and mortar.

Shopify recently took steps to compete more directly with Amazon, although its executives have long said that e-commerce players have very different objectives. This quietly unrolled several new features that make its Shop application an Amazon-type marketplace, and it is gradually building its Shopify distribution network.

Shopify also has filed more patent applications over the past two years, as it seeks to further protect its intellectual property amid increasing competition in e-commerce, BetaKit reported.

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