If you thought Amazon’s ambition to deliver goods to customers via drones was mind-boggling, get this: they’re developing a tool to prepare your purchase for delivery before you’ve even decided to order them.
From the Wall Street Journal:
The Seattle retailer in December gained a patent for what it calls “anticipatory shipping,” a method to start delivering packages even before customers click “buy.” The technique could cut delivery time and discourage consumers from visiting physical stores.
In the patent document, Amazon says delays between ordering and receiving purchases “may dissuade customers from buying items from online merchants.”
So Amazon says it may box and ship products it expects customers in a specific area will want – based on previous orders and other factors — but haven’t yet ordered. According to the patent, the packages could wait at the shippers’ hubs or on trucks until an order arrives.
Here’s the patent application:
The report continues:
Amazon said the predictive shipping method might work particularly well for a popular book or other items that customers want on the day they are released. As well, Amazon might suggest items already in transit to customers using its website to ensure they are delivered, according to the patent.
Of course, Amazon’s algorithms might sometimes err, prompting costly returns. To minimize those costs, Amazon said it might consider giving customers discounts, or convert the unwanted delivery into a gift. “Delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill,” the patent said.
See also: Tick here for delivery by drone