Sunday, January 19, 2014

Amazon Wants to Send You Stuff Before You've Even Decided to Buy It

The idea is called 'anticipatory shipping'


E-commerce juggernaut amazon has a long legacy of fielding eyebrow-raising ideas-it recently told it was experimenting with delivery by drone and, heck, even the Kindle e-reader was out-there at one point. Now the Seattle-based giant has patented a method of shipping products before customers even place an order.

In December, Amazon was granted U.S. Patent No. 8,615,473 B2 for what the company describes as "anticipatory shipping," or a way of initiating the delivery process before a customer even clicks "buy." The idea is to cut down delivery time and, possibly, make it even less necessary to visit brick and mortar stores.

The document describes a process for boxing and shipping items the company expects customers in a specific area will want-based on previous orders, product searches, wish lists, or the contents of a shopping-cart before checkout.

Once in transit, the packages would theoretically wait at the shippers' hubs or on trucks until an order arrives. That is a different approach than the current approach: Today, the site receives an order and then labels packages with the final destination addresses at its warehouses before loading them onto waiting delivery trucks.

Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research analyst, told the Wall Street Journal: "It appears Amazon is taking advantage of their copious data. Based on all the things they know about their customers they could predict demand based on a variety of factors."

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