Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Future Purchases

Amazon patents system to ship you products before you actually order them.

In December, Amazon announced plans to ship your purchases via airborne drones. But, by the looks of a new patent, that plan might not be fast enough for the world’s largest online retailer. Now, they are planning to ship your items before you have even bought them.

The company filed a U.S. patent for their “anticipatory package shipping” method and system in December. According to their patent, Amazon plans to “(ship) the package to the destination geographical area without completely specifying the delivery address at time of shipment, and while the package is in transit, completely specifying the delivery address for the package,” reported the PBS NewsHour.

Drawing on its massive store of customer data, Amazon plans on shipping you items it thinks you’ll like before you click the purchase button. The company gained a new patent for “anticipatory shipping,” a system that allows Amazon to send items to shipping hubs in areas where it believes those items will sell well. Such a scenario might lead to unwanted deliveries and even returns, but Amazon seems willing to take the hit, stating in the patent, “Delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill.”

While the concept has Orwellian shades of “thought crime” from 1984 or the futuristic movie Minority Report, with Big Brother – or in this case, Big Amazon – knowing what you are going to do before you do it, there are lessons for the rest of us.

One takeaway from the seemingly out-there initiative is this – the supplier who has the most actionable data has a tremendous advantage in the marketplace, and every company selling needs to know more about their customers. Even as Amazon’s boxes fill the nation’s delivery pipeline, no one can accuse the company of not “thinking outside the box."

Kirk Shearer
1-800-989-0054 x103

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