Amazon has patented a system to begin shipping products to customers before they have even been purchased.
Part of an outline on “anticipatory shipping”, Amazon describes “speculative shipping”, which “may enable more sophisticated and timely management of inventory items, for example by allowing packages to begin flowing towards potential customers in advance of actual orders”.
The prediction of customers’ next purchases may also involve a rerouting of packages already in transit, should the customer order the item while it is on its way to a nearer warehouse – just as the system predicted.
Amazon goes on to suggest that should the algorithm fail, the item may be delivered anyway to negate the cost of having to send it back to the main distribution centre.
The ‘thank you’ gift – based on what the customer may have wanted anyway – might then inspire future purchases and thus a higher degree of accuracy in the future.
Should the system work, delivery times may be reduced to hours or minutes with little extra cost.
Amazon previously patented one-click purchases in 1999, which many retailers have since licensed out due to its popularity among consumers.
Purchase prediction may be the next big thing in the future – Amazon already predicts that it will be.
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