Amazon is watching you and shipping your next package…even if you didn’t order it. The Seattle, Washington retailer has just obtained a patent that they call “anticipatory shipping,” which targets customers based on their historical shopping trends.
This new software system Amazon hopes will reduce waiting time for customers to receive shopping items and “may dissuade customers from buying items from online merchants.” Although a customer hasn’t yet clicked on buy, Amazon is predicting that he/she will, based on previous orders, product searches, wish lists, shopping-cart contents, returns and the amount of time an Internet user’s cursor lingers over an item.
Amazon is working profusely to reduce delivery time for its products. In 2012, it started developing a plan to use drones to ship its products to customers. The “anticipatory shipping” plan relies on traditional logistic carriers, trucks and airplanes. The innovation involves shipping the products to hubs in close proximity to potential buyers, so that when the customer does place the order, the product will arrive within hours.
Amazon plans on capitalizing on its enormous data pool to out compete other online merchants. “It appears Amazon is taking advantage of their copious data,” said Sucharita Mulpuru, a Forrester Research analyst. “Based on all the things they know about their customers they could predict demand based on a variety of factors.”
Of course just hovering your mouse over an online item doesn’t mean that you are ready to fork over your credit card. Consequently, it could be costly for the online retail giant to transport all these products to various destinations, only to find the customer doesn’t want the item. Amazon may offer a discount on the unwanted delivery or even offer it as a gift. “Delivering the package to the given customer as a promotional gift may be used to build goodwill,” the patent said.