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Google imagines free taxis to transport web shoppers to stores

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Google car
Google car

Google’s latest ad-powered concept might just tempt web shoppers into retail stores in the future. In a patent granted recently, Google describes an online ad that could offer shoppers a free taxi ride to a retail store to take advantage of potential offers. Restaurants and businesses with brick-and-mortar stores could use the ads to offer free rides to their location and tempt consumers away from rival online competition.

As easy as clicking 'get me there'

The concept involves multiple software algorithms, and perhaps even Google’s self-driving cars. A click of the "get me there" button on a web ad would trigger a taxi or automated vehicle to pick the customer up, but the real trick is to ensure the algorithms target the correct shoppers. "The invention involves automatically comparing the cost of transportation and the potential profit from a completed transaction using a number of real-time calculations," says Google in its patent filing. These real-time calculations could also involve advertisers bidding on customers, the targeting of consumers searching for certain products, and whether people are likely to buy products or simply take a free ride to a store.

It’s all still a concept and a patent right now, but retailers are always looking for new ways to entice customers into stores. eBay launched "Shoppable Windows" last year that let consumers buy products from store windows and have them delivered within an hour. Other retailers are turning to indoor location-based services to learn more about their customers, and some are taking advantage of technology like Square readers to make it easy to shop in stores. With online shopping on the rise, the idea of free taxi rides to stores doesn’t seem too far-fetched.